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The Essay on Man consists of four Epistles addressed to Lord 
Bolingbroke. It is but a portion of a large poem contemplated, 
but not completed. Hence the title imperfectly describes its 
contents. It is less a treatise on Man than on the moral order 
of the world of which man is a part. The Essay is a vindication 
of Providence. The appearances of evil in the world arise from 
our seeing only a part of the whole. Excesses and contrary 
qualities are means by which the harmony of the system is pro- 
cured. The ends of Providence are answered even by our 
errors and imperfections. God designs happiness to be equal, 
but realises it through general laws. Virtue only constitutes a 
happiness which is universally attainable. This happiness through 
virtue is only reached in society, or social order, which is only 
a part of the general order. The perfection of virtue is a con- 
formity to the order of Providence here, crowned by the hope 
of full satisfaction hereafter. ^» 

The argument of the Essay on Man is said to have been sup- 
plied to Pope by Bolingbroke. The source of this tradition is 
Lord Bathurst. Lord Bathurst, a Tory Peer, had lived with the 
Tory wits of Queen Anne ; then with the Bolingbroke and Ches- 
terfield opposition to Walpole ; and having survived all his con- 
temporaries, died^in 1775, at the age of 91. We may believe 
that he was in the' habit of stating that Bolingbroke had supplied 
the scheme of the Essay on Man in prose, and that Pope had 
done no more than put it into verse. This is reported by two 
independent and trustworthy witnesses. Joseph Warton states, 
Pope's Works, vol. 3, p. 7, that Lord Bathurst had * repeatedly 
assured' him of the fact. Dr. Hugh Blair^ dining with Lord 


Bathurst in 1763, was told by him in still stronger language 
' that the Essay on Man was composed by Lord Bolingbroke in 
prose, and that Mr. Pope did no more than put it into verse/ 
Dr. Blair reported this at the time to Boswell, who repeated it 
to Johnson. Johnson's immediate remark was, ' Depend upon 
it, sir, this is too strongly stated. Pope may have had from 
Bolingbroke the philosophic stamina of his Essaj ; and admitting 
this to be true, Lord Bathurst did not intentionally falsify. But 
the thing is not true in the latitude that Blair seems to imagine. 
We are sure that the poetical imagery, which makes a great part 
of the poem, is Pope's own.' (Boswell, Life, vol. 7. p. 283.) 

This extemporised judgment of Johnson probably is as near 
the truth as we can get. It was from Bolingbroke's conversation 
that the poet derived not only many of his ideas, but the impulse 
to meddle with speculations for which he was little fit, . But the 
internal evidence alone is inconsistent with the supposition that 
Pope proceeded on the mechanical plan of versifying Lord Bo- 
lingbroke's prose. As to the MS. read by Lord Bathurst, I con- 
ceive it to have been the MS* of the * Essays,' and * Fragments or 
Minutes of Essays,' now included in Lord Bolingbroke's printed 
Works, These * Fragments' were occasional scraps communicated 
to Pope as they were written. Sin^e passages in these Fragments 
resemble passages in Pope's Essay. But even if the communica- 
tion of the Fragments preceded the composition of the Essay 
on Man, they are far from containing the whole scheme of the 
Poem. 60th the Essay on Man and Bolingbroke's Minutes derive 
their colouring from a common source. 

The Essay on Man V9ds composed at a time when the reading 
public, in this country, were occupied with an intense and eager 
curiosity by speculation on the first principles of Natural Reli- 
gion. Everywhere, in the pulpit, in the coflfee-houses, in every 
pamphlet, argument on the origin of evil, on the goodness of 
God, and the constitution of the world, was rife. Into the 
prevailing topic of polite conversation Bolingbroke, who returned 
from exile in 1723, was drawn by the bent of his native genius. 
Pope followed the example and impulse of his friend's more 



powerful mind. Thus much there was of special suggestion. 
But the arguments or topics of the poem are to be traced to 
books in much vogue at the time ; to Shaftesbury's Characteristics 
(T711), King On the Origin of Evil (1702), and particularly to 
Leibnitz, Essais de Tbeodlcee (17 10). Pope's ambition as a poet 
led him to take up a subject which involved abstract considera- 
tions for which he had no aptitude. He had hitherto only treated 
social or personal themes. Unless he was to be content to be 
read merely by * the town,* he must apply himself to the larger 
argument which absorbed the attention of all serious minds. No 
writer, who desires to be read by his cotemporaries, can neglect 
the topics in which his cotemporaries feel a paramount interest. 
Pope brooded many years over the scheme of an ethical work. 
The First Part, or Epistle, was published, anonymously, in 1732. 
The Fourth Part came out, with his name, in 1734. He never 
completed any more of the work; though in 1738 he had not 
relinquished the project of a continuation^ as we see from the 
Epilogue to the Satires 2. 255 

* Alas, alas ! pray end what you began. 
And write next winter more Essays on Man.* 

In selecting his subject, Pope was thus determined, against the 
bent of his own genius, by the direction in which the curiosity of 
his reading public happened to be exerted. Herein lay, to begin 
with, a source of weakness. To write on a thesis set by circum- 
stances is to begin by wanting inspiration, which proceeds from 
the fullness of the heart. But when the thesis prescribed is also 
one which lies beyond the scope of the mental habits of the 
writer, the difficulties to be overcome are great indeed. The 
feeblest of Boileau's poems is his Epttre sur P amour de Dieu, which 
he was drawn in to write because the Quietist controversy, in 
which he had no interest, was raging at court. 

The subject of the Essay on Man is not, considered in itself, 
one unfit for poetry. Had Pope had a genius for philosophy, 
there was no reason why he should not have selected a 
philosophical subject. Didactic poetry is a mistake, if not a contra- 



diction in terms. But poetry is not necessarily didactic because 
its subject is philosophical. And the highest phase of the phi- 
losophical imagination is tentative, not dogmatic. Philosophy 
cannot be presented as a system of truths for defence or proof. 
It offers considerations for meditation, and not fixed verities. 
It is an attempt to elevate the whole mind towards the contem- 
plation of the phaenomena of the world from their ideal side. 
Hence there is a close affinity between the mental state of the 
philosopher and the poet. Plato's Diahgues^ though not in verse, 
address the same faculty of imagination to which poetry appeals. 
Poetry, philosophy, and art, in their highest condition, meet on 
the same footing — that of suggestion, not of affirmation. The 
possibility of presenting the Christian ideas in a poetical garb 
had been shewn by Milton. There seems no reason why those of 
natural religion should not be offered for contemplation m a suit- 
able form. We may adopt the words in which Madame d'fepinay 
rebuked the cynicism of Saint-Lambert : ' Vous, moVisieur, qui 
etes poete, vous conviendrez avec moi que Texistence d'un Etre 
etemel, tout puissant, souverainement intelligent, est le germe 
d*un plus bel enthousiasme.' 

But it is not enough that a given subject should be in itself 
adapted for poetry ; the poet who undertakes it should be in 
sympathy with his theme. Pope, as the popular writer of his day, 
suffered a subject to be imposed upon him, because it interested 
others, not himself. It followed, as a necessary consequence, 
that his treatment of the subject was also dictated by the taste 
of the public, whom it was necessary to please. 

In the level on which he treats his theme we find Pope to be 
the man of his age. The age was one that seemed to have no 
sense for transcendental ideas in religion, in metaphysics, or in 
poetry. It was an age of common sense, and the experience of 
life as it is. To this common sense Pope appeals throughout. He 
conceived poetry only as an expression of this ' common sense,* 
as is indicated by his criticism on Young (Dr. Edward Young, 
died 1765), that * he had much of a sublime genius without com- 
mon sense.* Into the highest ideal sphere in which the poet and 



artist are one, the sphere of Plato and Greek tragedy, of Dante 
and of the Disputa, Pope does not enter. But he has a philosophy 
of his own, a philosophy derived from tact, and an ethics founded 
upon knowledge of the world. * Pope and Addison are conspi- 
cuously men of the world in their modes of thought and forms of 
expression. It is in the school of a metropolis that they framed 
their studies of mankind. Pope is essentially the poet of capitals, 
and his knowledge of the world is rather to be called knowledge 
of the town.' (Lytton, Caxtoniana,') 

The source of this prosaic view of philosophy and poetry is to 
be found in the circumstances of the time. 

The Revolution of 1688, in creating, or affirming, parliamentary 
government, had amalgamated the political and the literary circles, 
which had previously remained two distinct castes. From that 
time forward literature and literary men essayed politics, and the 
political spirit of free debate invaded literature. The inevitable 
consequence was that literature was lowered to the level of debate, 
' Le manage d'un gouvemement constitutionel,' says Villemain, 
* occupe trop I'esprit pour etre fort utile au genie. II ne lui donne 
ni les passions et la grandeiu: de la liberty republicaine, ni les 
loisirs d'une monarchie splendide et paisible.' (Villemain, Litt. 
Frang, i. 116.) The guild of literature, within which learned men 
had written for the learned, was broken up. The writer, like 
the parliamentary debater, addressed such arguments as occurred 
to his natural understanding to a general audience who had no 
more special information than himself. Philosophical debate be- 
came popular in its method and in its language, losing in depth 
as it spread itself in width. Addison expresses the aim of this 
popular philosophy, 

* It was said of Socrates that he brought philosophy down from 
heaven, to inhabit among men. I shall be ambitious to have it 
said of me that I have brought philosophy out of closets and 
libraries, schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at 
tea-tables and coffee-houses. I would therefore in a very par- 
ticular manner recommend nay speculations to all well-regulated 
families that set apart an hour in every morning for tea and 


bread-and-butter; and would earnestly advise them, for their 
good, to order this paper to be punctually served up, and to be 
looked upon as a part of the tea equipage.' (Spectator y No. lo.) 

This impulse to be understood, and to attain intelligibility by 
saying only the obvious, extended itself to the writers in verse, 
as well as to those in prose. In truth, the only difference between 
poetry and prose in this age consisted in numbers and in rhyme, 
and not in the order of the ideas presented. Writers aspired 
to treat in verse every subject that could be treated in prose, 
from Religion to the *Art of preserving Health.' Poetry, or 
rather verse, found itself quite equal to the task of exhibiting 
all the ideas which were admissible on any subject. Poetry 
became a rhymed rhetoric, confining itself to producing the 
general average notions belonging to the subject in hand. ' The 
poet seized upon those universal, limited truths, which are situ- 
ated midway between the highest philosophical abstractions and 
the minor details, a class of truths with which the oratorical art 
deals, and which form what we call commonplaces. These they 
arranged in compartments; they developed them with method 
and symmetry ; they organised them into regular procession* 
to defile before the eye with magisterial dignity, and the pre- 
cision of a disciplined body of troops. The ascendancy of this 
oratorical reason became so great, that at last it possessed itself 
of poetry. Buffon. says in praise of some verses that they " are 
as fine as fine prose." Poetry thus became only more elaborate 
prose, subjected to the restraint of rhyme.' (Taine, Litterature 
Anglaise,y 3. 384.) Special, or professional knowledge was not 
merely thought superfluous, but was excluded as bad taste. ^ 
This phase of literature during which poetry, or versified rhe- 
toric, supplanted science, was common to England, France and 
Germany, though the period of its duration was different in the 
three countries. (Schaefer, Geschichte der Deutscben Literatur, 
b. 6, c. 5.) The attempt as a whole was unsuccessful ; lowering 
the tone of poetry by restricting it to what was common, and 
driving philosophy, in its abhorrence of the superficial, into an 
ungenial and illiterate jargon. 



It was in this spirit that Pope undertook'^ble and garrulous 
version of the ^eodicee, or so much of the ai^ reading, who in 
cation of Providence as could be presented in tho»Qme currency 
What this popular form could not hold he has not^ted into 
The mere observation of a narrow social life, or what is'^i^^^j^ 
* knowledge of the world,* yields a system of prudential ethics, 
but is inadequate as a basis of natural religion. On its theoretic 
and perceptive side, morality depends on metaphysics, and meta- 
physics depend on science. On its emotional side, morality de- 
pends on the cultivation of the feelings of piety and resignation. 
The moral view, which Pope shared with his age, is deficient in 
both regards, the emotional, as well as the scientific. The de- 
pendence of Man on God is asserted, and in beautiful language : 

' Submit. In this or any other sphere 
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear; 
Safe in the hand of one disposing pow'r 
Or in the natal, or the mortal, hour/ 

Ess» I. 285. 

But this is not the pervading tone of the poeili, which does not 
place the reader throughout in the attitude of personal devotion. 
On the other hand, as a version of the metaphysical argument for 
the moral attributes of God, it is a very narrow and incomplete 
rendering of Leibnitz's Tbeodicee. Pope had not formed to him- 
self any connected and methodised system of thought on the 
topic. 'Three or four systems, deformed and mutilated, are 
amalgamated in his work. He boasts of having '^ tempered the 
one by the other, and of having steered between extremes." Th^ 
truth is that he has not understood them, and that he has mixe j 
together incompatible ideas.' (Taine, Lift, jinglalse, 3. 387.) 
The scheme of Providence as exhibited in the Essay on Man is 
imperfect. The difficulties presented by the moral anomalies of 
the world and the existence of evil are perhaps not capable of 
solution by us. * Man is not bom to solve the problem of his 
existence, but he is born to attempt to solve it, that he may 
keep within the limits of the knowable.' (Goethe.) Pope is 

L .1 


^^ ' " u^^*^ ^^ explained, where he has not even 
gooa, er :^^^ ^^ nodus. 'The poem,' says De Quincey, 

looked upon as'r , , ./^rZiT^ 

_, . . ^^n of anarchy; and one amusing test of this may 

4-nri the fact that different commentators have de- 
^^^.^^OTn^om it opposite doctrines. In some instances this ap- 
parent antinomy is doubtful and dependent on the ambiguities 
or obscurities of the expression. But in others it is fairly dedu- 
cible; and the cause lies in the elliptical structure of the work. 
The ellipsis may be filled up in two different modes, and he that 
supplies the hiatus in effect determines the bias of the poem 
this way or that, to a religious or a sceptical result* {Leaders 
in Literature^ P» S^O The solution, which may be sought in vain 
by reasoning, may be found in the devotional sentiment. To 
this region it must be admitted Pope does not mount. Pascal 
says : * Je blame ^galement et ceux qui prennent parti de louer 
IHiomme, et ceux qui le prennent de le blamer, et ceux qui le 
prennent de se divertir ; et je ne puis approuver que ceux qui 
cherchent en g^missant.' {Penseesj Art. i, § 9.) With this before 
him. Pope has done all that Pascal condemns, and not done what 
Pascal approves. The single line * And shew'd a Newton as we 
shew an ape,' it has been well said, * could not possibly have been 
written by any person impressed with a due veneration for the 
glory of his species' (Dugald Stewart). Pope is deficient in a 
true human and natural sympathy. * With all his fine perception 
and marvellous acuteness, he takes but a limited view of human 
life and duty, and is deficient in that spirit of true humanity that 
stirs the deepest feelings, and accompanies the noblest intellects.' 
(Garruthers, Life^ p. 226.) 

This deficiency of moral perception in the poem was not felt 
by Pope's cotemporaries. Though the Essay on Man was the 
subject of more than one attack at the time, these all turned on 
alleged errors in its particular reasonings or doctrines. The 
most detailed of these criticisms was the work of J. P. de Crou- 
saz, a Swiss professor in the service of the Elector of Hesse 
Cassel. De Crousaz published an Examen (Lausanne, 1737) and 
a Commentaire (Geneve, 1738) to accompany the Abb6 Resnel's 




translation of the Essay, They are the feeble and garrulous 
productions of the old age of a man not without reading, who in 
his time had done better things. Yet they had some currency 
with the religious public, and the Examen was translated into 
English by Mrs. Elizabeth Garter (i2mo. Lond. 1739). Pope was 
in extreme alarm at being supposed to have written against 
religion, and was accordingly grateful when Warburton came 
forward to vindicate the orthodoxy of the Essay, The Critical 
and Philosophical Commentary on Mr. Papers Essay on Man, by Mr. 
Warburton, lamo. Lond. 1742, is dull, prolix, confused, and in no 
"way worthy of the author of Ibe Divine Legation. All that can 
be said of it is, that it is no worse than the criticism to which it 
was an answer. It served a temporary purpose in throwing the 
shield of Warburton's orthodoxy and philosophical reputation 
over Pope. Though Pope must have been surprised to be told 
that one of his own * chief ends of writing was the confutation of 
the Manichaean or Zoroastrian error,' he gladly allowed War- 
burton's Commentary to be adopted into the editions, where it 
has held its place for more than a century. * It should certainly 
have been dismissed,* says De Quincey {JVorks^ 9. 52). It has 
not been retained in the present edition. 

After this first critical assault the Essay on Man gradually esta- 
blished itself as a classic. Dugald Stewart, in Lectures delivered 
in 1793-3, expresses the opinion of that age in speaking of the 
Essay as ' the noblest specimen of philosophical poetry which our 
language affords ; and which, with the exception of a very few 
passages, contains a valuable summary of all that human reason 
has been able hitherto to advance in justification of the moral 
government of God.' {^Active and Moral Powers ; Works , 7.133.) 
This might seem a little overstated if it did not stand in close 
connection with some strictures on particular passages which the 
same judicious critic condemns as false in sentiment. Pope was 
also Kant's favourite poet (Immanuel Kant, died 1804), and was 
habitually quoted by him in his lectures. (K. Fischer, Gesch. 
d. Pbilos. 3. 64.) 

It will be apparent from what has been said that anything like 


a system of natural religion must not be looked for in the Essay. 
In 1754 the Berlin Academy proposed as a thesis for a prize 
essay *An examination of Pope's system.* Lessing hereupon 
published a short pamphlet (J^ope ein Metapbysiker^ Danzig, 1755) 
with the view of showing that nothing which could be called 
'system' could be extracted from the Essay y but that it was a 
patchwork of ill-assorted notions. Besides that he was not 
intellectually master of any such system, Pope's method of com- 
position was unfavourable even to verbal consistency of state- 
ment. He finished, piece by piece, disjointed fragments, which 
he connected afterwards as well as he could. Hence the whole 
is without unity. There is not only no systematic thought, but 
there is not even harmony of feeling. The poem is not all in one 
key. ' His art no doubt is great, but it is the art which begins 
by elaborating the parts and afterwards endeavours to fit theiA 
together by plastering over the interstices. The art of a Milton 
works from within outwards, fusing all the materials into one 
solid mass by its own central heat.' (J. B. Mayor, Contemp, Rev, 
14. 124.) Pope's method of composition reminds us of Seneca's, 
of whose style Nero said that it was 'scopus dissolutus, arena sine 
calce,' and who abounds in contradictions from the same cause. 

As examples of what has been said of Pope's indifference to his 
professed argument, we may cite his account of the * State of 
Nature :' — 

*Nor think in nature's state they blindly trod; 
The state of nature was the reign of God ;' &c, 

Ess» 3. 147-168, 

To explain the foundations of civil society, political theorists 
had had recourse to the hypothesis of a prior condition of man 
antecedent to law. Law was thus referred to a positive cove- 
nant, or civil pact. The condition of humanity prior to this 
covenant was conceived either as one of equality and liberty 
with reciprocal services, as by Hooker (^Eccles, Pol, bk. i), and 
Locke (Civil Government y bk. 2, c. 2), or of mutual war as by 
Hobbes {De Cive, 1642). Over against these theories stood that 


of Sir Robert Fiimer. According to Filjner, legitimate power 
could only vest in the person of an hereditary monarch, deriving 
authority in direct transmission from Adam, to whom it had been 
committed by the Creator. Kilmer's was an endeavour to deduce 
civil constitution from historical data. The hypothesis adopted 
by Locke was a conception of reason, and was not advanced as a 
fact. But each of these theories, whether tenable or not, was 
consistent and cleariy conceived. Pope came also necessarily 
upon the question of the origin of society. How does he explain 
it? By none of the received theories, nor by any intelligible 
theory. He culls from all quarters anything that will tell, and 
offers a patchwork picture where the elegance of the phrase hides 
the absence of an idea. 

Hesiod (before B.C. 700) had pictured an age of gold (Op, et 
DUs, 90 seq.), and twenty years after Pope's Essay , Rousseau 
produced his panegyric of the state of nature {Discours sur 
Pinegalite parmi Us homines^ 1753). Hesiod's metallic age was a 
theory produced as a possible explanation of the facts of life. 
Rousseau urges the parallel between the effects of domestication 
and those of luxury upon the natural powers of brutes and men, 
into paradox it is true, but it is a paradox which is worked into 
a substantial and consistent system. Pope's state of nature is 
entirely unreal. It is a consecrated ornament, traditionally con- 
tinued, as a part of the common stock of what is called * poet- 
ical imagery.' 80 little care has he for consistency, that while 
death is represented (3. 161 &c.) as a step in the sequence of 
degeneracy and corruption, a few lines further (3.221 &c.) the 
eating of fish and fowl is an advance in the progress of the arts. 

The second example may be taken from some just remarks by 
Professor Bain. 

To show the. difference between profound thought and bril- 
liant illustration, while both must repose upon a common founda- 
tion, viz. the power of identifying like things through distance 
and disguise, Mr. Bain quotes the following lines : — 

'When the proud steed shall know why man restrains 
His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains ; 



When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod, 

Is now a victim, and now Egypt's god; 

Then shall man's pride and dulness comprehend 

His actions*, passions*, being's, use and end; 

"Why doing, suffering, check'd, impell'd ; and why 

This hour a slave, the next a deity.' Mss, i. 61-68. 

' Here a difficulty in the scheme of human life is not met 
by other positions that man is placed in, which might reconcile us 
to the difficulty, but by two comparisons poetically striking, but 
logically unsatisfying. Butler would never have gone to the 
inferior creatures for an analogy. He would have recalled to 
our view, as a general principle, of which numerous other ex- 
amples would be given, " the government of God considered as a 
scheme or constitution imperfectly comprehended,*' and would 
have endeavoured to point out that the imperfect comprehension 
was a fact of the natural world as well as of the supernatural. 
No human being really beset with earnest doubts would take any 
comfort from Pope's couplets; many have found repose in 
Butler's reasonings ... [In other passages of the Essay] we 
have a profuse employment of the power of similarity in addu- 
cing lively illustrations, not only with very little force to instruct 
the mind, but with a tendency to distort the truth. The difference 
between Pope and Bp. Butler is the difference between a close 
observer of phenomena anxious to get at the truth, and a genius 
for language that cares principally for poetic effect, and takes the 
thoughts at second-hand.* (Study of Character, p. 343.) 

Our age can no longer read the Essay on Man as a theodicee. 
We find its arguments confused, and its dry rationalism unedify- 
ing. The subject has not lost its interest, but the questions 
which are involved are all advanced into a further stage. Our 
greatly enlarged knowledge of the laws, both of nature and of 
thought, make the metaphysical and theological discussions of the 
eighteenth century seem to us either superficial common-places, 
or partial special pleadings. The Essay on Man can only be read 
as a classic, as a relic of past controversies. Neglecting its 



ambitious design of exhibiting a system of nature and providence, 
we can only regard it as presenting us with the popular moral 
ideas of that age. Even in this view the Essay on Man is inferior 
in interest to other poems of Pope — ^to his Satires and Epistles. 
These have more concrete instances, individual traits, and per- 
sonal characteristics. In the Essay on Man the moralising is 
more abstract, the allusions are historical, and not cotemporary. 
The ethical reflections of that class of moralists who generalize 
maxims from what is called * knowledge of the world,* have about 
them something which is especially perishable. 

Every national literature which has developed itself naturally 
has had periods of gnomic poetry. Maxims of life and manners 
are in demand as soon as ever social relations become an object of 
reflection. In the middle age of England, after the period of 
war and knightly adventure pictured in the romances of chi- 
valry, followed a period when social intercourse began to refine 
itself, and to call for its philosophers and its legislators. The 
satirist is the philosopher, and the moralist the legislator of such 
a period. The pompous ceremonial and scenic exterior give 
way to humbler but more human forms of life. The fantastic 
sentiment which formed the ideal standard of character in the 
age of chivalry, is supplanted by the maxims of a shrewd common- 
sense. These reflections on life and conduct, this proverbial 
philosophy, is adopted by the poets and becomes a favourite staple 
of popular verse. The fifteenth century in England was such a 
period. Gower, Lydgate, Hoccleve, Skelton, Burgh, along with 
others of less or no note, form a whole literature by themselves 
They wrote 

*To teche or to preche 
As reason will reche.' 

(Skelton, Colin Clout, I, 13.) 

Pope, Addison, Steele, Prior, Gay, Swift were in a similar rela- 
tion to the changed manners and more refined society of the 
eighteenth century. The writer, be he poet or moralist, who. 
deals with this range of reflection, must be prepared to have it 




said of him in the next generation that he is trite and common- 
place ; as Johnson said of the Essay on Man, that it shows * penury 
of knowledge and vulgarity of sentiment.* (^Life of Pope,") Gower 
and Lydgate must ever remain objects of curiosity to students 
of our language or historians of our manner, but as moral 
teachers they are obsolete. Their ethics are not false, but they 
are trite and vulgar. Their reading of life is superseded by a 
reading which is, not truer, but more modem. 

It is impossible not to feel that the same process of obsoles- 
cence is gradually affecting the moral and metaphysical parts of 
Pope's poems. His personalities, his particular portraits, and 
vivid pictures of cotemporary manners have lost nothing of 
their original interest. But when he enunciates universal truths, 
we find that the lapse of 150 years has tarnished their brightness 
without detracting from their justice. 

When we turn from the matter of the Essay to the execution, 
dissatisfaction gives way to admiration. We then see the secret 
of the eminence which Pope attained, and which he must always 
retain as long as the English language continues to be read. In 
the art of metrical composition. Pope was a master. Johnson, 
who depreciated him, did not hesitate to say, that ' a thousand 
years may elapse before there shall appear another man with a 
power of versification equal to his.' (Boswell, Life^ vol. 8, p. 15.) 
Pope erred in selecting an uncongenial subject, and in attempting 
to argue and discuss in metre. But he has masked an unmanage- 
able matter by his inimitable art of expression. Such is the 
importance of style. It is truly said by Boileau, that * in all 
languages a mean thought expressed in noble terms is better 
liked than the noblest thought expressed in mean terms. For 
everybody cannot judge of the force and justness of a thought, 
but scarce any but perceives the meanness of words.* (Reflexions 
Critiques. Refl, 9, (Ewvres, 3, 218, ed. 1722.) In reading each 
paragraph of the Essay, we may take the thought as a given 
material, and make a separate study of the setting and work- 
manship. The young scholar cannot propose to himself a more 


instructive model to dwell upon and to analyse. As zpoet, Pope 
is surpassed by many in our language; as a literary artist, by 
Gray alone. Poets of an earlier age, and poets of the age which 
followed Pope's, offer a rich fancy, a tender sentiment, sublime 
invention, deep emotion, lofty imagination — all of which are 
wholly wanting in Pope. But in none of these poets will be 
found that sense of proportion and harmony of parts, the sym- 
metry and balance, the neither too much nor too little, which 
characterise the classic in any language. In most of them we 
are offended by a license of irregularity which may be pardoned 
in the impro*vsjatore, but which is wholly inadmissible in a work 
of art. 

In his choice of the subject of the Essay on Man, Pope, we 

have said, was the man of his age. He was no less so in the 

form in which he endeavoured to elaborate his material, and in 

the fact that \^i interest lay in the elaboratioti, rather than in 

the matter treated. Pope is often spoken of as the head of a 

school of poetry. In the sense of being. the most eminent writer 

of a school, he was so, but chronologically he was the latest of 

the school he represents. Before his death in 1744, poetry had 

already given indications of the new character and new tone 

which were realised in Cowper (died 1800). The school of 

which Pope is the last representative, and the most perfect 

type, may be said to have been in possession of the poetical stage 

for the century from 1660 to 1760. It may be broadly contrasted 

with the poetry which preceded, and with that which followed, 

by its aim. The common aim of the writers of the epoch which 

dates from the Restoration was form or art. Pope himself used 

to ascribe this direction of his own genius to the suggestion of an 

adviser. * Walsh used to tell me that there was one way left of 

excelling ; for though we had several great poets, we never had 

any one great poet who was correct; and desired me to make that 

my study and aim.' (Spence, Anecdotes , p. 52, ed. 1820.) But 

the fact is, that Pope was only striving in the same direction in 

which his contemporaries were striving. The Elizabethan poets 

and their successors had only cared to utter their fancies, 




thoughts, conceits, and images, in rich exuberance of phrase. 
They were incapable of selection, or of keeping back. Though 
full of second-hand classical allusion, they had no sense of true 
classical form. They were wholly intent upon the matter of 
what they wished to say, careless how they said it. This diffuse 
prodigality of a lawless imagination necessarily superinduced 
a reaction. The repetitions, the redundancies, the luxuriant 
abandon of such poets as Davies or Davenant surfeited the reader 
and made him crave for a more simple diet. The attention once 
fixed upon the art of expression, there was created in literature 
the demand for form, a demand which is the condition of all art. 
The substance of what was to be said lay ready to hand in the 
ordinary conversation and ordinary books ; but the effort and the 
rivalry now was, how to say it. It was no longer necessary to 
observe, to learn, to think, to read. The common and obvious 
thoughts satisfied every one. To go beyond the obvious was 
stigmatised as pedantry. He who best reflected the general 
sentiment was held in most esteem. The substance of their 
poetry was what Villemain attributes to La Motte, * la fine 
expression de I'elegance sociale, qui se croit la v^rite po^tique.' 
{Latt. Frang, i. 42.) This was common to them all. Upon this 
material they worked. To give clearness and plainness to the 
language, to file and finish the lines, to reject superfluity, to 
diffuse a subdued colour over the whole, to regulate the just 
subordination of the parts— these became the business of the 
poet, and every writer who aspired to be read was a poet. 

This striving after perfection of form, along with deficient 
interest in the matter of what is said, which now appeared for 
the first time in our language, is the same phenomenon as had 
shown itself in the 'Ciceronianism' of the Italian humanists of 
the sixteenth century. In English verse, as in Latin prose, the 
very perfection reached contained the germ of decay. * This 
elaborate though equable strain in a kind of poetry, which, never 
requiring high flights of fancy, escapes the censure of mediocrity 
and monotony, excites more admiration in those who have been 
accustomed to the numerous defects of less finished poets, thani 




it retains in a later age, when others have learned to emulate 
and preserve the same uniformity.' (Hallam, Literature^ 3. 466, 
ed. 1854.) 

It was especially in attention to the laws of rhythm that the 
newly awakened aesthetic sense found its occupation. The reform 
of the school of the Restoration in the melody of versification 
has been so great, that it has struck every critic, and has tended 
to obscure the fact that this reform was but a portion of the 
general endeavour at 'composition.* *The exquisite perfection 
of the versification has withdrawn the public attention from their 
other excellences, as the vulgar eye will rest more upon the 
splendour of the uniform than the quality of the troops.* (Byron, 
Works y 15. 87.) The greater part of the poetry of the seven- 
teenth century, prior to the Restoration, seems to be without 
any prosodial system; to know nothing of rhythm, metre, or 
accent, and to be bound together solely by the final assonance. 
There were not wanting some earliep exceptions, such as Sandys 
(died 1643); but in Donne (died 163 1) we have versification 
which can scarcely be said to be subject to any laws at all. As 
the century advances we trace a growing effort to bring English 
versification under metrical law. Dryden (1631-1700) did the 
most in this direction. Dryden, indeed, always referred to Waller 
(died 1687, aet. 83) as his master, declaring that 'unless he had 
written, none of us could write.' (Scott, Life of Dryden, ch. i.) 
But Dryden has many irregular verses, and it was left for Pope 
to bring the couplet under rules of metrical scansion as strict as 
the English language will allow. 

The Essay on Man is composed in the rhymed couplet of 
verses of five accents. The history of this metre is curious. 
It was long used for light and trifling subjects, and is con- 
temptuously spoken of by the critics of the sixteenth century, 
in contrast with the Stanzas, which were alone thought appro- 
priate to serious topics. (Puttenham, Art of English Poesie, 
p. 50, 'ed. 18 1 1.) 

It is easy to see the origin of this preference for the stanza in 
grave works. The stanza in verse is the analogue of the prose 

c a 



sentence as constructed by Hooker, Jeremy Taylor, or Milton. 
Each of these stately periods carries along with it, over and 
above its direct predication, all the conditions and exceptions to 
which the writer wishes to submit that predication, all woven 
into one structure. There is in each stanza or sentence so much 
as fills the mind to the utmost strain of its capacity for attention ; 
and then a pause for reflection and digestion. The same process 
which broke up the composite period of earlier prose into the 
disjointed modem style of short sentences, took place in verse. 
The stanza gradually gave way before the couplet. This dis- 
solution of the staff was going on all through the seventeenth 
century. In Denham we have the intermediate stage. Cooper's 
Hill (1643) is in couplets, but the sense is habitually continued 
from verse to verse, to such an extent that we feel as if the poet 
had forgotten he was not writing in stanzas. Davenant cut down 
the Spenserian stanza to the elegiac staff of four lines, alternately 
rhyming. But when in his Preface (Gondiberty 16) he defends 
himself for not using couplets, we see that the couplet has already 
revealed itself as the instrument of poetical expression which was 
required by the age. Dryden achieved the final victory of the 
couplet. But Dryden did not attain the art of giving variety to 
the couplet by the variation of the pause, and sought to attain 
this object by the ruder expedients of triple rhymes, interpolating 
verses of six, or even seven accents, and admitting three syllables 
to one* accent. In Dryden, not only is the sense often carried 
beyond the second line, but the second line of one couplet and 
the first of the next are united in a single sentence, so that the 
two, though not rhyming, must be read as a couplet. A tendency 
to the stricter practice of the French to terminate the sense 
with the couplet increased from the Restoration. It is strictly 
observed by Pope in the present poem. But though he carefully 
avoids the couplet enjamb^, he is not wholly free from lesser 
blemishes of carelessness or laziness. He abounds in imperfect 
rhymes, the First Epistle alone having seventeen such. He allows 
the accent to rest too often on a weak syllable, and occasionally 
even at the end of a line, e. g. 


* Or infamous for plundered provinces.* 

With exquisite taste as to how much the language could bear, he 
stopped short of the rigorism of the French heroic verse of six 
accents, which invariably exacts the caesura in the middle. This 
rigorism is defended by Marmontel (Poetique Frang.), on the 
ground that the alternation of masculine and feminine rhymes 
furnishes sufficient variety to French poetry. English critics are 
apt to think that the uniform French csesura imparts too artificial 
and mechanical a character to their versification. The opinion 
of Dr. Blair seems not far from the truth, that {Lectures, Lect. 38) 
' it is a distinguishing advantage of our English verse that it 
allows the pause to be varied through four different syllables in 
the line. The pause may fall after the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, 
the seventh syllable ; and according as the pause is placed after 
one or other of these syllables, the melody of the verse is much 
changed, and its air and cadence are diversified.' 

On the whole, the rhythm of the heroic couplet as settled by 
Pope, must ever remain the classical model of' English versifica- 
tion. In the latter half of the eighteenth century, when the re- 
action against the poetry of good sense set in, it was not thought 
enough to depart from the style of Pope, unless his metre was 
rejected also. The return to nature, in the poetical as in the 
political revolution, was attempted by throwing off law. The 
aspiration to reach a ' higher melody* by means of lawless 
rhythms, has led us back to the barbarous versification of the 
seventeenth century, and much is written as poetry, which can 
only claim to be so called because it is not prose. * 

The best preservative from such licentious taste that can be 
recommended to the young writer, is the diligent study of Pope. 
All study, to be useful, must be in a spirit of deference. Criticism 
is only an aid to appreciation. ' They mistake the nature of 
criticism,* says Dryden (State of Innocence ^ Pref.), 'who think its 
business is to find fault.' On the other hand, study must not be 
in a spirit of servility. ' With reverence should we approach the 
shade of Milton ; but criticism would lose half its usefulness and 




all its dignity, if we yielded an unqualified a^ent to the doctrine 
that its canons are nothing more than the practice of our great 
poets reduced to rule.* (Guest, English Rhythms , 2. 242.) There 
are flaws in Pope's workmanship. But though it is easy to repeat 
the criticisms of others, it is only the carefully-trained perception 
that can judge these flaws justly. The young student should 
dwell patiently upon the text of the author, and not take up 
with borrowed criticism. Yet, in addition to independent study, 
reference to the best critical treatises is indispensable, provided 
always that he make the mental effort of endeavouring to test 
the critic's dicta by his own judgment. The following is a list 
of books that may be consulted : — 

1. Poetical Works of A. Pope. Edited by Robert Carruthers. 

3 vols. Second Edition. 1858. 

2. Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope. By Joseph 

Warton. 2 vols. 8vo. Fifth Edition. 1806. 

3. Alexander Pope. By Thomas De Quincey. In De Quincey's 

Collected Works. 

4. Life of Dryden. By Sir Walter Scott. Scott's Miscella- 

nieous Prose Works. 1848. 

5. The Poetry of Pope. By Prof. Gonington. Oxford Essays. 


6. English Poetry from Dryden to Gowper. Article V, in 

Quarterly Review, July, 1862. 

The Essay on Man was translated immediately into French 
verse by the Abbe du Resnel; into French prose by M. de 
Silhouette, 1736. There are besides these, two modem French 
versions, one by Delille, and another by de Fontanes, Paris, 182 1. 
A version in Latin hexameters was published at Wittenburg in 
1743, and another by J. Gosta, Patav. 1775. Kretsch translated 
the Essay into German, and there is another version by Mumsen, 
Hamburg, 1783. There is one Portuguese, and more than one 
Italian version. A polyglot edition, containing six versions, 
was published at Amsterdam, and Strasburg, 176a, and another 
of five versions by Bodoni, at Parma, i8oi, 




The Essay also called forth numerous imitations. Of these 
may be mentioned : — 

Albrecht von Haller. Ueber den Ursprung des Uebels. 1734. 
Wieland. Die Natur der Dinge. 1750. 
Voltaire. Poeme sur la loi naturelle. 175 1. 

, John George Schlosser (1799) told Goethe that * he had 
written a poem in the same metre as the Essaj on Man to refute 
its principles* {Dichttmg und Wabrheity p. 242), but I do not know 
if it was ever published. 

The text followed in the present edition is that of Warburton's 
first collected edition, 175 1, errors of press excepted. As War- 
burton followed a copy left corrected for press by the author 
himself, an editor of Pope would seem to have no choice but to 
adopt his text. The spelling of that edition has been strictly 
adhered to. To * modernise' the spelling of a classic, is nothing 
less than to deface one of the monuments of the language. 

I desire to thank those who have assisted me with corrections, 
and valuable suggestions, especially Mr. Henry Nettleship, Mr. 
Whitwell Elwin, Mr. J. B. Mayor, and Mr. Theodore Walrond. 

M. P. 

Lincoln College, 

Maj^ 1871. 







Having proposed to write some pieces on human life and 
manners, such as (to use my lord Bacon's expression) came home 
to merCs business and bosoms^ I thought it more satisfactory to 
begin with considering Man in the abstract, his nature and his 
state.; since, to prove any moral duty, to enforce any moral 
precept, or to examine the perfection or imperfection of any 
creature whatsoever, it is necessary first to know what condition 
and relation it is placed in, and what is the proper end and pur- 
pose of its being. 

The science of human nature is, like all other sciences, re- 
duced to a few clear points : there are not many certain truths in 
this world. It is therefore in the anatomy of the mind as in 
that of the body; more good will accrue to mankind by -attend- 
ing to the large, open, and perceptible parts, than by studying 
too much such finer nerves and vessels, the conformations and 
uses of which will for ever escape our observation. The disputes 
are all upon these last, and I will venture to say, they have less 
sharpened the wits than the hearts of men against each other, 
and have diminished the practice, more than advanced the theory 
of morality. If I could flatter myself that this Essay has any 
merit, it is in steering betwixt the extremes of doctrines seem- 
ingly opposite, in passing over terms utterly unintelligible, and in 



A wild, where weeds and flow'rs promiscuous shoot; 

Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit. 

Together let us beat this ample field, 

Try what the open, what the covert yield 1 lo 

The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore 

Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar; 

Eye nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies. 

And catch the manners living as they rise: 

Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; 

But vindicate the ways of God to man" 

Say first, of God above, or man below. 

What can we reason, but from what we know? 

Of man, what see we but his station here. 

From which to reason, or to which refer? 20 

Thro' worlds unnumber'd tho' the God be known, 

'Tis ours to trace him only in our own. 

He, who thro' vast immensity can pierce, 

See worlds on worlds compose one universe, 

Observe how system into system runs, 

What other planets circle other suns, 

What vary'd being peoples every star, 

May tell why heav'n has made us as we are. 

But of this frame the bearings and the ties, 

The strong connections, nice dependencies, 30 

Gradations just, has thy pervading soul 

Look'd thro' ? or can a part contain the whole ? 

Is the great chain, that draws all to agree, 
And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee? 
Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou find. 
Why form'd so weak, so little, and so blind? 
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess. 
Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no Jess? 



Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made 
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade? 40 

Or ask of yonder argent fields above, 
Why Jove's Satellites are less than Jove? 

Of systems possible, if 'tis confest 
That wisdom infinite must form the best, 
Where all must full or not coherent be, 
And all that rises, rise in due degree; 
Then, in the scale of reas'ning life, 'tis plain, 
There must be, somewhere, such a rank as man: 
And all the question (wrangle e'er so long) 
Is only this, if God has plac'd him wrong? 50 

Respecting man whatever wrong we call, 
May, must be right, as relative to all. 
In human works, tho' labour* d on with pain, 
A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain; 
In God's, one single can its end produce; 
Yet serves to second too some other use. 
So man, who here- seems principal alone. 
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown, 
Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal; 
'Tis but a part we see, and not a whole. 60 

When the proud steed shall know why man restrains 
His fiery course, or drives him o'er the plains; 
When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod, 
Is now a victim, and now Egypt's god: 
Then shall man's pride and dullness comprehend 
His actions', passions', being's, use and end; 
Why doing, suffering, check' d, impell'd; and why 
This hour a slave, the next a deity. 

Then say not man's imperfect, heav'n in fault; 
Say rather, man 's as perfect as he ought : 70 

30 ESSAV ON l\fAN. 

His knowledge measured to his state and place; 
His time a moment, and a point his space, v 
If to be perfect in a certain sphere, 
• What matter, soon or late, or here or there? 
The blest to-day is as completely so. 
As who began a thousand years ago. 

Heav'n from all creatures hides the book of fate. 
All but the page prescribed, their present state: 
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know : 
Or who could suffer being here below? 80 

The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day. 
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play? 
Pleased to the last, he crops the flowVy food, 
And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood. 
Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv'n. 
That each may fill the circle mark'd by heav'n: 
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all, 
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall. 
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd. 
And now a bubble burst, and now a world. 90 

Hope humbly then ; with trembling pinions soar ; 
Wait the great teacher death, and God adore. 
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know, 
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now. 
Hope springs eternal in the human breast: 
Man never is, but always to be blest : 
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home, 
Rests and expatiates in a life to come. 

Lo, the poor Indian I whose untutor'd mind 
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind; 100 
His soul, proud science never taught to stray 
Far as the solar walk, or milky way; 


Yet simple nature to his hope has giv*!!, 

Behind the cloud-topt hill, an humbler heav'n; 

Some safer world in depth of woods embraced, 

Some happier inland in the wat'ry waste, 

Where slaves once more their native land behold, 

No fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold. 

To Be, contents his natural desire, 

He asks no angel's wing, no seraph's fire; no 

But thinks, admitted to that equal sky. 

His faithful dog shall bear him company. 

Go, wiser thou 1 and in thy scale of sense. 
Weigh thy opinion against providence ; 
CaU imperfection what thou fancy'st such, 
Say, here he gives too Uttle, there too much: 
Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust. 
Yet cry, If man's imhappy, God's unjust; 
If man alone ingross not HeaVn's high care. 
Alone made perfect here, immortal there: 120 

Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod, - 
Re-judge his justice, be the God of God. 
In pride, in reas'ning pride, our error lies ; 
All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies. 
Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes. 
Men would be angels, angels would be gods. 
Aspiring to be gods if angels fell. 
Aspiring to be angels men rebel: 
And who but wishes to invert the laws 
Of order, sins against th' eternal cause. 130 

Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine. 
Earth for whose use? pride answers, "Tis for mine: 
For me kind nature wakes her genial pow'r, 
Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev'ry flow'r; 


Annual for me, the grape, the rose renew 

The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew; 

For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings; 

For me, health gushes from a thousand springs; 

Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise; 

My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies/ 140 

But errs not nature from this gracious end, 
From burning suns when livid deaths descend. 
When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep 
Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep? 
* No ('tis reply'd) the first almighty cause 
Acts not by partial, but by gen'ral laws; 
Th' exceptions few ; some change since all began : 
And what created perfect?' — Why then man? 
If the great end be human happiness, 
Then nature deviates; and can man do less? 150 

As much that end a constant course requires 
Of show'rs and smi-shine, as of man's desires; 
As much eternal springs and cloudless skies. 
As men for ever temperate, calm, and wise. 
If plagues or earthquakes break not Heav'n's design, 
Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline? 
Who knows but he, whose hand the light'ning forms, 
Who heaves old ocean, and who wings the storms; 
Pours fierce . ambition in a Caesar's mind. 
Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind? 160 
From pride, from pride, our very reas'ning springs; 
Account for moral as for nat'ral things : 
Why charge we heav'n in those, in these acquit? 
In both, to reason right is to submit. 

Better for us, perhaps, it might appear, 
Were there all harmony, all virtue here; 


That never air or ocean felt the wind, 

That never passion discompos'd the mind. 

But all subsists by elemental strife ; 

And passions are the elements of life. 170 

The gen'ral order, since the whole began. 

Is kept in nature, and is kept in man. 

What would this man? Now upward will he soar, 
And little less than angel, would be more; 
Now looking downwards, just as griev'd appears 
To want the strength of bulls, the fur of bears. 
Made for his use all creatures if he call. 
Say what their use, had he the pow'rs of all ; 
Nature to these, without profusion, kind. 
The proper organs, proper pow'rs assigned; 180 

Each seeming want compensated of course. 
Here with degrees of swiftness, there of force; 
All in exact proportion to the state ; 
Nothing to add, and nothing to abate. 
Each beast, each insect, happy in its own: 
Is Heav'n unkind to man, and man alone ? 
Shall he alone, whom rational we call. 
Be pleas'd with nothing, if not blest with all ? 

The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find) 
Is not to act or think beyond mankind; 190 

No pow'rs of body, or of soul to share, 
But what his nature and his state can bear. 
Why has not man a microscopic eye? 
For this plain reason, man is not a fly. 
Say what the use, were finer optics giv'n, 
T' inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav'n? 
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er. 
To smart and agonize at ev'ry pore? 




Or, quick effluvia darting thro' the brain, 
Die of a rose in aromatic pain? 
If nature thunder'd in his op'ning ears, 
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres, 
How would he wish that heav'n had left him still 
The whisp'ring zephyr, and the purling rill? 
Who finds not Providence all good and wise. 
Alike m what it gives, and what denies? 
Far as creation's ample range extends. 
The scale of sensual, mental pow'rs ascends: 
Mark how it mounts to man's imperial race. 
From the green myriads in the peopled grass: aio 

What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme. 
The mole's dim curtain, and the lynx's beam: 
Of smell, the headlong lioness between, 
And hound sagacious on the tainted green: 
Of hearing, from the life that fills the flood, 
To that which warbles through the vernal wood? 
The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine I 
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line: 
In the nice bee, what sense so subtiy true 
From pois'nous herbs extracts the healing dew: aao 

How instinct varies in the grov'ling swine, 
Compar'd, half reas'ning elephant, with thine I 
'Twixt that, and reason, what a nice barrier? 
For ever sep'rate, yet for ever near I 
Remembrance and reflection how ally'd; 
What thin partitions sense from thought divide? 
And middle natures, how they long to join, 
Yet never pass th' insuperable line! 
Without this just gradation, could they be 
Subjected, these to those, or all to thee? 230 


The poVrs of all subdu'd by thee alone, 
Is not thy reason all these powers in one? 

See, thro' this air, this ocean, and this earth. 
All matter quick, and bursting into birth. 
Above, how high progressive life may go! 
Around, how wide! how deep extend below! 
Vast chain of being I which from God began. 
Natures aethereal, human, angel, man. 
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see. 
No glass can reach; from infinite to thee, 240 

From thee to nothing. On superior pow'rs 
Were we to press, inferior rtiight on oiurs; 
Or in the full creation leave a void. 
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd: 
From Nature's chain whatever link you strike, 
Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike. 

And, if each system in gradation roll 
Alike essential to th' amazing whole^ 
The least confusion but in one, not all 
That system only, but the whole must falL 250 

Let earth unbalanc'd from her orbit fly. 
Planets and suns run lawless thro' the sky; 
Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurl'd, 
Being on being wrecked, and world on world; 
Heav'n's whole foundations to their centre nod. 
And nature tremble to the throne of God. 
All this dread order break — for whom? for thee? 
Vile worml^-oh madness! pride! impiety! 

What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread, 
Or hand, to toil, aspir'd to be the head? 260 

What if the head, the eye, or ear repin'd 
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind? 

3> 2 


Just as absurd for any pvX to claim 
To be another, in this gen'ral frame; 
Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains 
The great directing Mind of all ordains. 

All are but parts of one stupendous whole, 
Whose body nature is, and God the soul; 
That, chang'd thro' all, and yet in all the same, 
Great in the earth, as in th' aethereal frame, 270 

Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze. 
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees. 
Lives thro' all life, extends thro' all extent, 
Spreads undivided, operates unspent; 
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part. 
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart; 
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns, 
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns: 
To him no high, no Ipw, no great, no small; 
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all. 280 

Cease then, nor order imperfection name: 
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame. 
Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree 
Of blindness, weakness, Heav'n bestows on thee. 
Submit. In this, or any other sphere. 
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear: 
Safe in the hand of one disposing pow'r, 
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour. 
All nature is but art, unknown to thee; 
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see; 290 
All discord, harmony not understood; 
All partial evil, imiversal good. 
And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite, 
One truth is clear, 'Whatever is, is right.* 




Of the nature and state of man with respect to 
himself as an individual, 

I. The business of man not to pry into God, but to study himself. His 
middle nature: his powers and frailties, i to 19. The limits of his 
capacity, 19. II. The two principles of man, self-love and reason, both 
necessary, 53. Self-love the stronger, and why, 67. Their end the same, 
81. III. The passions, and their use, 93 to 1 30. The predominant 
passion, and its force, 132 to 160. Its necessity, in directing men to 
different purposes, 165. Its providential use, in fixing our principle, and 
ascertaining our virtue, 177. IV. Virtue and vice joined in our mixed 
nature ; the limits near, yet the things separate and evident : What is the 
office of reason, 202 to 216. V. How odious vice in itself, and how we 
deceive ourselves into it, 217. VI. That, however, the ends of provi- 
dence and general good are answered in our passions and imperfections, 
238. How usefully these are distributed in all orders of men, 241. How 
useful they are to society, 251. And to individuals, 263. In every state, 
and every age of Hfe, 273. 

NOW then thyself, presume not God to scan, 
The proper study of mankind is man. 
Plac'd on this isthmus of a middle state, 
A being darkly wise, and rudely great: 
With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, 
With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride, 
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest; 
In doubt to deem himself a God, or beast; 
In doubt his mind or body to prefer; 
Born but to die, and reasoning but to err; 10 

Alike in ignorance, his reason such, 
Whether he thinks too little or too much: 


Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd; 
Still by himself abus'd or disabus'd; 
Created half to rise, and half to fall; 
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; 
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurrd: 
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world I 

Go, wondrous creature 1 mount where science guides, 
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides; 20 
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run. 
Correct old time, and regulate the sun; 
Go, soar with Plato to th' empyreal sphere. 
To the first good, first perfect, and first fair; 
Or tread the mazy roimd his foUow'rs trod, 
And quitting sense call imitating God; 
As eastern priests in giddy circles run, 
And turn their heads to imitate the sun. 
Go, teach eternal wisdom how to rule — 
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool! 30 

Superior beings, when of late they saw 
A mortal man unfold all nature's law, 
Admir'd such wisdom in an earthly shape, 
And shew'd a Newton as we shew an ape. 

Could he, whose rules the rapid comet bind, 
Describe or fix one movement of his mind? 
Who saw its fires here rise, and there descend, 
Explain his own beginning, or his end; 
Alas what wonder 1 man's superior part 
Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art; 40 

But when his own great work is but begun, 
What reason weaves, by passion is undone. 

Trace science then, with modesty thy guide; 
First strip off all her equipage of pride; 




Deduct what is but vanity or dress, 

Or learning's luxury, or idleness; 

Or tricks to shew the stretch of human brain, 

Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain; 

Expunge the whole, or lop th' excrescent parts 

Of all our vices have created arts; 50 

Then see how little the remaining sum. 

Which served the past, and must the times to come I 

Two principles in human nature reign; 
Self-love, to urge, and reason, to restrain; 
Nor this a good, nor that a bad we call. 
Each works its end, to move or govern all: 
And to their proper operation still 
Ascribe all Good, to their improper. 111. 

Self-love, the spring of motion, acts the soul; 
Reason's comparing balance rules the whole. 60 

Man, but for that, no action could attend. 
And, but for this, were active to no end: 
Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot. 
To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot: 
Or, meteor-like, flame lawless thro' the void, 
Destroying others, by himself destroy'd. 

Most strength the moving principle requires; 
Active its task, it prompts, impels, inspires. 
Sedate and quiet the comparing lies, 
Form'd but to check, deliberate, and advise. 70 

Self-love, still stronger, as its objects nigh; 
Reason's at distance, and in prospect lie: , 
That sees immediate good by present sense; 
Reason, the future and the consequence. 
Thickeif than arguments, temptations throng. 
At best more watchful this, but that more strong. 


The action of the stronger to suspend 

Reason still use, to reason still attend. 

Attention habit and experience gains; 

Each strengthens reason, and self-love restrains. 80 

Let subtie schoolmen teach these friends to fight, 

More studious to divide than to unite; 

And grace and virtue, sense and reason split, 

Witii all the rash dexterity of wit. 

Wits, just like fools, at war about a name, 

Have full as oft no meaning, or the same. 

Self-love and reason to one end aspire, 

Pain their aversion, pleasure their desire; 

But greedy that, its object would devour, 

This taste the honey, and not wound the flow'r: 90 

Pleasure, or wrong or rightiy understood, 

Our greatest evil, or our greatest good. 

Modes of self-love the passion* we may call: 
'Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all: 
But since not ev'iy good we can divide. 
And reason bids us for our own provide: 
Passions, tho' selfish, if their means be fair. 
List under Reason, and deserve her care; 
Those, that imparted, court a nobler aim, 
Exalt their kind, and take some virtue's name. xoo 

In lazy apathy let Stoics boast 
Their virtue fix'd; 'tis fix'd as in a frost; 
Contracted all, retiring to the breast; 
But strength of mind is exercise, not rest: 
The rising tempest puts in act the soul. 
Parts it may ravage, but preserves, the whole. 
On life's vast ocean diversely we sail. 
Reason the card, but passion is the gale; 


Nor God alone in the still calm we find, 

He mounts the storm, and walks upon the wind, no 

Passions, like elements, tho' bom to fight, 
Yet, mix'd and soften'd, in his work unite: 
These 'tis enough to temper and employ; 
But what composes man, can man destroy? 
Suffice that reason keep to nature's road. 
Subject, compound them, follow her and God. 
Love, hope, and joy, fair pleasure's smiling train. 
Hate, fear, and grief, the family of pain. 
These mixt with art, and to due bounds confin'd, 
Make and maintain the balance of the mind: 120 

The lights and shades, whose well accorded strife 
Gives all the strength and colour of our life. 

Pleasures are ever in our hands or eyes; 
And, when in act they cease, in prospect rise: 
Present to grasp, and future stiU to find. 
The whole employ of body and of mind. 
All spread their charms, but charm not all alike; 
On diflf'rent senses diflf'rent objects strike; 
Hence diflf'rent passions more or less inflame, 
As strong or weak, the organs of the frame; 130 

And hence one master passion in the breast. 
Like Aaron's serpent, swallows up the rest. 

As Man, perhaps, the moment of his breath. 
Receives the lurking principle of death; 
The young disease, that must subdue at length, 
Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength : 
So, cast and mingled with his very frame. 
The mind's disease, its ruling passion came; 
Each vital humour which should feed the whole, 
Soon flows to this, in body and in soul: 140 


Whatever wanns the heart, or fills the head. 
As the mind opens, and its functions spread. 
Imagination plies her dang'rous art, 
And pours it all upon the peccant part 
Nature its mother, habit is its nurse; 
Wit, spirit, faculties, but make it worse; 
Reason itself but gives it edge and pow'r. 
As heav'n's blest beam turns vinegar more sowr. 

We, wretched subjects tho' to lawful sway, { 

In this weak queen some fav*rite still obey: 150 < 

Ah 1 if she lend not arms, as well as rules, I 

What can she more than tell us we are fools? 
Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend, 
A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend! 
Or from a judge turn pleader, to persuade 
The choice we make, or justify it made; 
Proud of an easy conquest all along, 
She but removes weak passions for the strong: 
So, when small humours gather to a gout. 
The doctor fancies he has driv'n them out. 160 

Yes, nature's road must ever be preferr'd; 
Reason is here no guide, but still a guard; 
'Tis hers to rectify, not overthrow. 
And treat this passion more as friend than foe; 
A mightier pow'r the strong direction sends, 
And sev'ral men impels to sev'ral ends: 
Like varying winds by other passions tost, 
This drives them constant to a certain coast 
Let pow'r or knowledge, gold or glory, please. 
Or (oft more strong than all) the love of ease; 170 
Thro' life 'tis followed, ev*n at life's expence; 
The merchant's toil, the sage's indolence. 



The monk's humility, the hero's pride, 
All, all alike, find reason on their side. 

Th' eternal art educing good from ill, . 
Grafts on this passion our best principle: 
'Tis thus the mercury of man is fix'd. 
Strong grows the virtue with his nature mix'd; 
The dross cements what else were too refin'd. 
And in one int'rest body acts with mind. 180 

As fruits, ungrateful to the planter's care, 
On savage stocks inserted, learn to bear ; 
The surest virtues thus from passions shoot, 
Wild nature's vigor working at the root 
What crops of wit and honesty appear 
From spleen, from obstinacy, hate or fear I 
See anger, zeal and fortitude supply; 
EVn av'rice, prudence; sloth, philosophy; 
Lust, thro' some certain strainers well refin'd, ' 
Is gende love, and charms all womankind; 190 

Envy, to which th' ignoble mind's a slave. 
Is emulation in the learn'd or brave; 
Nor virtue, male or female, can we name. 
But what will grow on pride, or grow on shame. 

Thus nature gives us (let it check our pride) 
The virtue nearest to our vice ally'd: 
Reason the byas turns to good from ill, 
And Nero reigns a Titus, if he will. 
The fiery soul abhorr'd in Catiline, 
In Decius charms, in Curtius is divine: aoo 

The same ambition can destroy or save, 
And makes a patriot as it makes a knave. 

This light and darkness in our chaos join'd, 
What shall divide? The God within the mind. 


Extremes in nature equal ends produce, . 
In man they join to some mysterious use; 
Tho' each by turns the other's bound invade, 
As, in some well-wrotight picture, light and shade. 
And oft so mix, the diflf'rence is too nice 
Where ends the virtue, or begins the vice. aio 

Fools! who from hence into the notion fall, 
That vice or virtue there is none at all. 
If white and black blend, soften, and unite 
A thousand ways, is there no black or white? 
Ask your own heart, and nothing is so plain; 
'Tis to mistake them, costs the time and pain. 

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, 
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen; 
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face. 
We first endure, then pity, then embrace. 220 

But where th' extreme of vice, was ne'er agreed: 
Ask Where's the North? at York, 'tis on the Tweed; 
In Scotland, at the Orcades; and there. 
At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where. 
No creature owns it in the first degree. 
But thinks his neighbour farther gone than he: 
Ev'n those who dwell beneath its very zone, 
Or never feel the rage, or never own; 
What happier natures shrink at with affright, 
The hard inhabitant contends is right 230 

Virtuous and vicious ev'ry man must be, 
Few in th' extreme, but all in the degree; 
The rogue and fool by fits is fair and wise; 
And ev'n the best, by fits, what they despise. 
'Tis but by parts we follow gobd or ill; 
For, vice or virtue, self directs it still; 


Each individual seeks a sev'ral goal; 

But heaVn's great view is one, and that the whole. 

That counter-works each folly and caprice ; 

That disappoints th' effect of ev'ry vice; 240 

That happy frailties to all ranks apply'd, 

Shame to the virgin, to the matron pride. 

Fear to the statesman, rashness to the chief, 

To kings presumption, and to crowds belief: 

That, virtue's ends from vanity can raise, 

Which seeks no int'rest, no reward but praise; 

And build on wants, and on defects of mind, 

The joy, the peace, the glory of mankind. 

Heav'n forming each on other to depend, v_ 
A master, or a servant, or a friend, 250 

Bids each on other for assistance call, 
'Till one man's weakness grows the strength of all. 
Wants, frailties, passions, closer still ally 
The common int'rest, or endear the tie. 
To these we owe true friendship, love sincere, 
Each home-felt joy that life inherits here; 
Yet from the same we learn, in its decline, 
Those joys, those loves, those int'rests to resign; 
Taught half by reason, half by mere decay. 
To welcome death, and calmly pass away. 260 

Whate'er the passion — ^knowledge, fame, or pelf, 
Not one will change his neighbour with himself. 
The leam'd is happy natiu-e to explore. 
The fool is happy that he knows no more; 
The rich is happy in the plenty giv'n. 
The poor contents him with the care of heav'n. 
See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing. 
The sot a hero, lunatic a king; 


The starving chemis^t in his golden views 

Supremely blest, the poet in his muse. a 70 

See some strange comfort ev'ry state attend, 

And pride bestoVd on all, a common friend: 

See some fit passion ev'ry age supply, 

Hope travels thro', nor quits us when we die. 

Behold the child, by nature's kindly law, 
Pleas'd with a rattle, tickled with a straw: 
Some livelier play-thing gives his youth delight, 
A little louder, but as empty quite: 
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage. 
And beads and pra/r-books are the toys of age : 280 
Pleas'd with this bauble still, as that before; 
'Till tir'd he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er. 

Mean-while opinion gilds with varying rays 
Those painted clouds that beautify our days; 
Each want of happiness by hope suppl/d, 
And each vacuity of sense by pride : 
These build as fast as knowledge can destroy; 
In folly's cup still laughs the bubble joy; 
One prospect lost, another still we gain; 
And not a vanity is giv'n in vain; 390 

Ev'n mean self-love becomes, by force divine, 
The scale to measure others wants by thine. 
See! and confess one comfoit still must rise; 
'Tis this, Tho' man's a fool, yet God is wise. 


Of the nature and state of man with respect to society. 

I. The whole universe one system of society, 7. Nothing made wholly for 
itself, nor yet wholly for another, 27. The happiness of animals mutual, 
49. II. Reason or instinct operate alike to the good of ^ach individual, 
79. Reason or instinct operate also to society in all animals, 109. 
III. How far society carried by instinct, 115. How much farther by 
Reason, 128. IV. Of that which is called the state oi nature, 144. 
reason instructed by instinct in the invention of arts, 166, and in the 
forms of society, 176. V. Origin of political societies, 196. Origin of 
monarchy, 207. Patriarchal government, a 1 2. VI. Origin of true 
religion and government, from the same principle, of love, 231. Origin 
of superstition and tyranny, from the same principle, of fear, 237. The 
influence of self-love operating to the social and public good, 266. Re- 
storation of true religion and government on their first principle, 285. 
Mixt government, 288. Various forms of each, and the true end of all, 

ERE then we rest; 'The universal cause 
Acts to one end, but acts by various laws.' 
In all the madness of superfluous health, 
The trim of pride, the impudence of wealth, 
Let this great truth be present night and day; 
But most be present, if we preach or pray. 

Look round our world ; behold the chain of love 
Combining all below and all above. 
See plastic nature working to this end, 
The single atoms each to other tend, 10 

Attract, attracted to, the next in place 
Form'd and impelled its neighbour to embrace. 


See matter next, with various life endu'd, 

Press to one centre still, the gen'ral good. 

See dying vegetables life sustain, 

See life dissolving vegetate again: 

All forms that perish other forms supply, 

(By turns we catch the vital breath, and die) 

Like bubbles on the sea of matter bom, 

They rise, they break, and to that sea returo. 20 

Nothing is foreign; parts relate to whole; 

One all-extending, all-preserving soul 

Connects each being, greatest with the least; 

Made beast in aid of man, and man of beast; 

All serv'd, all serving: nothing stands alone; 

The chain holds on, and where it ends, unknown. 

Has God, thou fool! work'd solely for thy good. 
Thy joy, thy pastime, thy attire, thy food? 
Who for thy table feeds the wanton fawn, 
For him as kindly spread the floVry lawn: 30 

Is it for thee the lark ascends and sings? 
Joy tunes his voice, joy elevates his wings. 
Is it for thee the linnet pours his throat? 
Loves of his own and raptures swell the note. 
The bounding steed -you pompously bestride, 
Shares with his lord the pleasure and the pride. 
Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain? 
The birds of heav'n shall vindicate their grain. 
Thine the full harvest of the golden year? 
Part pays, and justly, the deserving steer: 40 

The hog, that plows not, nor obeys thy call, 
Lives on the labours of this lord of all. 

Know, nature's children all divide her care; 
The fur that warms a monarch, warm'd a bear. 


While man exclaims, 'See all things for my use!' 
* See man for mine 1' replies a pamper'd goose : 
And just as short 9f reason he must fall, 
Who thinks all made for one, not one for all. 

Grant that the powerful still the weak controul; 
Be man the wit and tyrant of the whole : 50 

Nature that tyrant checks; he only knows, 
And helps, another creature's wants and woes. 
Say, will the falcon, stooping from above, 
Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove? 
Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings? 
Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings? 
Man cares for all: to birds he gives his woods, 
To beasts his pastures, and to fish his floods; 
For some his int'rest prompts him to provide. 
For more his pleasure, yet for more his pride : 60 

All feed on one vain patron, and enjoy 
Th' extensive blessing of his luxury. 
That very life his learned hunger craves, 
He saves from famine, from the savage saves; 
Nay, feasts the animal he dooms his feast. 
And, till he ends the being, makes it blest: 
Which sees no more the stroke, or feels the pain, 
Than favour'd man by touch etherial slain. 
The creature had his feast of life before ; 
Thou too must perish, when thy feast is o'er! 70 

To each unthinking being, heav'n a friend, 
Gives not the useless knowledge of its end: 
To man imparts it; but with such a view 
As, while he dreads it, makes him hope it too: 
The hour conceal'd, and so remote the fear, 
Death still draws nearer, never seeming near. 



Great standing miracle! that heav'n assign'd 
Its only thinking thing this turn of mind. 

Whether with reason, or with instinct blest, 
Know, all enjoy that pow'r which suits them best; So 
To bliss alike by that direction tend. 
And find the means proportion'd to their end. 
Say, where full instinct is th' unerring guide, 
What Pope or Council can they need beside? 
Reason, however able, cool at best. 
Cares not for service, or but serves when prest, 
Stays 'till we call, and then not often near; 
But honest instinct comes a volunteer. 
Sure never to o'er-shoot, but just to hit; 
While still too wide or short is human wit; ' 90 

Sure by quick nature happiness to gain. 
Which heavier reason labours at in vain. 
This too serves always, reason never long; 
One must go right, the other may go wrong. 
See then the actipg and comparing pow'rs 
One in their nature, which are two in ours; 
And reason raise o'er instinct as you can, 
In this 'tis God directs, in that 'tis man. 

Who taught the nations of the field and flood 
To shun their poison, and to chuse their food? 100 
Prescient, the tides or tempests to withstand, 
Build on the wave, or arch beneath the sand? 
Who made the spider parallels design. 
Sure as De Moivre, without rule or line? 
Who bid the stork, Columbus-like, explore 
Heav'ns not his own, and worlds unknown before? 
Who calls the council, states the certain day. 
Who forms the phalanx, and who points the way? 


Godj in the nature of each being, founds 
Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds: no 

But as he fram'd a whole the whole to bless, 
On mutual wants biiilt mutual happiness: 
So from the first,, eternal order ran. 
And creature link'd to creature, man to man; 
Whate'er of life all-quick'ning aether keeps. 
Or breathes thro' air, or shoots beneath the deeps. 
Or pours profuse on earth, one nature feeds 
The vital flame, and swells the genial seeds. 
Not man alone, but all that roam the wood, 
Or wing the sky, or roll along the flood, 120 

Each loves itself, but not itself alone. 
Each sex desires alike, 'till two are one. 
Nor ends the pleasure with the fierce embrace; 
They love themselves, a third time, in their race. 
Thus beast and bird their common charge attend, 
The mothers nurse it, and the sires defend; 
The young dismissed to wander earth or air, 
There stops the instinct, and there ends the care; 
The link dissolves, each seeks a fresh embrace, 
Another love succeeds, another race. 130 

A longer care man's helpless kind demands; 
That longer care contracts more lasting bands: 
Reflection, reason, still the ties improve, 
At once extend the int'rest, and the love: 
With choice we fix, with sympathy we bum; 
Each virtue in each passion takes its turn; 
And still new needs, new helps, new habits rise, 
That graft benevolence on charities. 
Still as one brood, and as another rose. 
These natVal love maintain'd, habitual those: 140 

s 2 


The last, scarce ripen'd into perfect man, 
Saw helpless him from whom their life began : 
Memory and fore-cast just returns engage, 
That pointed back to youth, this on to age; 
While pleasure, gratitude, and hope, combin'd, 
Still spread the interest and preserv'd the kind. 

Nor think, in nature's state they blindly trod; 
The state of nature was the reign of God : 
Self-love and social at her birth began, 
Union the bond of all things, and of man. 150 

Pride then was not; nor arts, that pride to aid; 
Man walk'd with beast, joint tenant of the shade; 
The same his table, and the same his bed; 
No murder cloath'd him, and no murder fed. 
In the same temple, the resounding wood. 
All vocal beings hymn'd their equal God : 
The shrine /with gore unstain'd, with gold undrest, 
Unbrib*d, unbloody, stood the blameless priest: 
Heav'n's attribute was universal care, 
And man's prerogative, to rule, but spare. 160 

Ah 1 how unlike the man of times to come I 
Of half that live the butcher and the tomb; 
Who, foe to nature, hears the gen'ral groan. 
Murders their species, and betrays his own. 
But just disease to luxury succeeds. 
And ev'ry death its own avenger breeds; 
The fury-passions from that blood began, 
And turn'd on man, a fiercer savage, man. 

See him from nature rising slow to art I 
To copy instinct then was reason's part; 170 

Thus then to man the voice of nature spake, 
/Go, from the creatures thy instructions take: 


Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield; 

Learn from the beasts the physic of the field ; 

Thy arts of building from the bee receive; 

Learn of the mole to plow, the worm to weave ; 

Learn of the little nautilus to sail, 

Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale. 

Here too all forms of social union find. 

And hence let reason, late, instruct mankind: i8o 

Here subterranean works and cities see; 

There towns a^'rial on the waving tree. 

Learn each small people's genius, policies. 

The ant's republic, and the realm of bees; 

How those in common all their wealth bestow, 

And anarchy without confusion know; 

And these for ever, tho* a monarch reign. 

Their sep'rate cells and properties maintain. 

Mark what unvary'd laws preserve each state, 

Laws wise as nature, and as fix'd as fate. 190 

In vain thy reason finer webs shall draw, 

Entangle justice in her net of law. 

And right, too rigid, harden into wrong; 

Still for the strong too weak, the weak too strong. 

Yet go I and thus o'er all the creatures sway, 

Thus let the wiser make the rest obey; 

And for those arts mere instinct could afford. 

Be crown'd as monarchs, or as gods ador'd.' 

Great nature spoke; observant man obey'd; 
Cities were built, societies were made : 200 

Here rose one little state; another near' 
Grew by like means, and join'd, thro' love or fear. 
Did here the trees with ruddier burdens bend, 
And there the streams in purer rills descend? 


What war could ravish, commerce could bestow, 

And he return'd a friend, who came a foe. 

Converse and love mankind might strongly draw. 

When love was liberty, and nature law. 

Thus states were form'd ; the name pf king unknown, 

'Till common int'rest plac'd the sway in one. 210 

*Twas virtue only (or in arts or arms, 

Diffusing blessings, or averting harms) 

The same which in a sire the sons obe/d, 

A prince the father of a people made. 

'Till then, by nature crown'd, each patriarch sate. 
King, priest, and parent, of his growing state; 
On him, their second providence, they hung, 
Their law his eye, their oracle his tongue. 
He from the wond'ring furrow call'd the food. 
Taught to command the fire, controul the flood, 220 
Draw forth the monsters of th' abyss profound. 
Or fetch th' afe'rial eagle to the ground, 
'Till drooping, sick'ning, dying they began 
Whom they rever'd as God to mourn as man : 
Then, looking up from sire to sire, explor'd 
One great first father, and that first ador'd. 
Or plain tradition that this All begun, 
Convey'd unbroken faith from sire to son; 
The worker from the work distinct was known, 
And simple reason never sought but one: 230 

Ere wit oblique had broke that steddy light, 
Man, like his maker, saw that all was right; 
To virtue, in the paths of pleasure trod. 
And own'd a father when he own'd a God. 
Love all the faith, and all th' allegiance then; 
For nature knew no right divine in men, 


No ill could fear in God; and understood 

A sov'reign being, but a sov'reign good. 

Trae faith, trae policy, united ran, 

That was but love of God, and this of man. 240 

Who first taught souls enslav'd, and realms undone, 
Th' enormous faith of many made for one ; 
That proud exception to all nature's laws, 
T' invert the world, and counter-work its cause? 
Force first made conquest, and that conquest, law; 
'Till superstition taught the tyrant awe. 
Then shar'd the tyranny, then lent it aid, 
And gods of conqu'rors, slaves of subjects made: 
She, 'midst the light'ning's blaze, and thunder's sound. 
When rock'd the mountains, and when groan'd the groimd, 
She taught the weak to bend, the proud to pray, 351 
To pow'r unseen, and mightier far than they: 
She, from the rending earth, and bursting skies, 
Saw gods descend, and fiends infernal rise: 
Here fix'd the dreadful, there the blest abodes; 
Fear made her devils, and weak hope her gods; 
Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust. 
Whose attributes wqre rage, revenge, or lust; 
Such as the souls of cowards might conceive. 
And, form'd like tyrants, tyrants would believe. 260 

Zeal then, not charity, became the guide; 
And hell was built on spite, and heav'n on pride. 
Then sacred seem'd th' etherial vault no more; 
Altars grew marble then, and reek'd with gore : 
Then first the flamen tasted living food; 
Next his grim idol smear'd with human blood; 
With heav'n's own thunders shook the world below. 
And pla/d the god an engine on his foe. 


So drives self-love, thro' just, and thro' unjust, 
To one man's pow'r, ambition, lucre, lust: 370 

The same self-love, in all, becomes the cause 
Of what restrains him, government and laws. 
For, what one likes, if others like as well, 
What serves one will, when many wills rebel? 
How shall he keep, what, sleeping or awake, 
A weaker may surprise, a stronger take ? 
His safety must his liberty restrain : 
All join to guard what each desires to gain. 
Forc'd into virtue thus, by self-defence, 
Ev'n kings learn'd justice and benevolence: 280 

Self-love forsook the path it first pursu'd. 
And found the private in the public good. 

'Twas then the studious head or gen'rous mind, 
Follower of God, or friend of human-kind, 
Poet or patriot, rose but to restore 
The faith and moral nature gave before; 
Relum'd her ancient light, not kindled new. 
If not God's image, yet his shadow drew : 
Taught pow'r's due use to people and to kings. 
Taught nor to slack, nor strain its tender strings, 290 
The less, or greater, set so justly true. 
That touching one must strike the other too; 
'Till jarring int'rests of themselves create 
Th' according music of a well-mix'd state. 
Such is the world's great harmony, that springs 
From order, union, full consent of things : 
Where small and great, where weak and mighty, made 
To serve, not suffer, strengthen, not invade; 
More pow'rful each as needful to the rest, 
And in proportion as it blesses blest; 300 


Draw to one point, and to one centre bring 
Beast, man, or angel, servant, lord, or king. 

For forms of government let fools contest; 
Whatever is best administered is best : 
For modes of faith, let graceless zealots fight; 
His can't be wrong whose life is in the right: 
In faith and hope the world will disagree. 
But all mankind's concern is charity: 
All must be false that thwart this one great end; 
And all of God, that bless mankind, or mend. 310 

Man, like the gen'rous vine, supported lives; 
The strength he gains is from th* embrace he gives. 
On their own axis as the planets run, 
Yet make at once their circle round the sun; 
So two consistent motions act the soul; 
And one regards itself, and one the whole. 

Thus God and nature link'd the gen'ral frame, 
And bade self-love and social be the same. 



Of the nature and state of man with respect to 


I. False notions of happiness, philosophical and popular, answered from 19. 
II. It is the end of all men, and attainable by all, 30. God intends 
happiness to be equal ; and to be so, it must be social, since all particular 
happiness depends on general, and since he governs by general, not parti- 
cular laws, 37. As it is necessary for order, and the peace and welfare 
of society, that external goods should be unequal, happiness is not made 
to consist in these, 51. But notwithstanding that inequality, the balance 
of happiness among mankind is kept even by providence, by the two 
passions of hope and fear, *jo. III. What the happiness of individuals 
is, as far as is consistent with the constitution of this world ; and that the 
good man has here the advantage, 77. The error of imputing to virtue 
what are only the calamities of nature, or of fortune, 94. IV. The folly 
of expecting that God should alter his general laws in favour of particu- 
lars, 121. V. That we are not judges who are good; but that whoever 
they are, they must be happiest, 133. VI. That external goods are not 
the proper rewards, but often inconsistent with, or destructive of virtue, 
l67< That even these can make no man happy without virtue: Instanced 
in riches, 185. Honours, 193. Nobility, 205. Greatness, 217. Fame, 
237. Superior talents, 259. With pictures of human infelicity in men 
possessed of them all, 269. VII. That virtue only constitutes a happi- 
ness, whose object is universal, and whose prospect eternal, 309. That 
the perfection of virtue and happiness consists in a conformity to the 
order of Providence here, and a resignation to ft here and hereafter, 326. 

H happiness I our being's end and aim I 
Good, pleasure, ease, content I whatever thy name-: 
That something still which prompts th' eternal sigh, 
For which we bear to live, or dare to die, 
Which still so near us, yet beyond us lies, 
O'er-look'd, seen double, by the fool, and wise. 


Plant of celestial seed I if dropt below, 

Say, in what mortal soil thou deign'st to grow? 

Fair op'ning to some court's propitious shine, 

Or deep with diamonds in the flaming mine? lo 

Twin'd with the wreaths Parnassian lawrels yield. 

Or reap'd in iron harvests of the field? 

Where grows ? where grows it not ? If vain our toil. 

We ought to blame the culture, not the soil: 

Fix'd to no spot is happiness sincere, 

'Tis no where to be found, or ev*ry where : 

'Tis never to be bought, but always free. 

And fled from monarchs, St. John ! dwells with thee. 

Ask of the learn'd the way ? The learn'd are blind ; 
This bids to serve, and that to shun mankind; 20 

Some place the bliss in action, some in ease. 
Those call it pleasure, and contentment these; 
Some sunk to beasts, find pleasure end in pain; 
Some swell'd to gods, confess ev'n virtue vain; 
Or indolent, to each extreme they fall. 
To trust in ev'ry thing, or doubt of all. 

Who thus define it, say they more or less • 
Than this, that happiness is happiness ? 

Take nature's path, and mad opinion's leave; 
All states can reach it, and all heads conceive; 30 

Obvious her goods, in no extreme they dwell; 
There needs but thinking right, and meaning well; 
And mourn our various portions as we please, 
Equal is common sense, and common ease. 

Remember, man, the universal cause 
Acts not by partial, but by gen'ral laws; 
And makes what happiness we justly call 
Subsist not in the good of one, but all. 


There's not a blessing individuals find, 

But some way leans and hearkens to the kind: 40 

No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride, 

No cavern'd hermit, rests self-satisfy'd : 

Who most to shun or hate mankind pretend, 

Seek an admirer, or would fix a friend: 

Abstract what others feel, what others think, 

All pleasures sicken, and all glories sink: 

Each has his share; and who would more obtain, 

Shall find the pleasure pays not half the pain. 

Order is heav'n's first law; and this confest, 
Some are, and must be, greater than the rest, 50 

More rich, more wise; but who infers from hence 
That such are happier, shocks all common sense. 
Heav'n to mankind impartial we confess. 
If all are equal in their happiness : 
But mutual wants this happiness increase; 
All nature's diff*rence keeps all nature's peace. 
Condition, circumstance is not the thing; 
Bliss is the same in subject or in king. 
In who obtain defence, or who defend. 
In him who is, or him who finds a friend : 60 

Heav'n breathes thro' ev'ry member of the whole 
One common blessing, as one common soul. 
But fortune's gifts if each alike possest. 
And each were equal, must not all contest? 
If then to all men happiness was meant, 
God in externals could not place content 

Fortune her gifts may variously dispose. 
And these be happy call'd, unhappy those; 
But heav'n's just balance equal will appear. 
While those are plac'd in hope, and these in fear: 70 


Not present good or ill, the joy or curse, 
But future views of better, or of worse. 

Oh sons of earth I attempt ye still to rise, 
By mountains pil'd on mountains, to the skies? 
HeaVn still with laughter the vain toil surveys, 
And buries madmen in the heaps they raise. 

Know, all the good that individuals find. 
Or God and nature meant to mere mankind. 
Reason's whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, 
Lie in three words, health, peace, and competence. 80 
But health consi^s with temperance alone; 
And peace, oh virtue 1 peace is all thy own. 
The good or bad the gifts of fortune gain ; 
But these less taste them, as they worse obtain. 
Say, in pursuit of profit or delight. 
Who risk the most, that take wrong means, or right? 
Of vice or virtue, whether blest or curst. 
Which meets contempt, or which compassion first? 
Count all th' advantage prosp'rous vice attains, 
'Tis but what virtue flies from and disdains : 90 

And grant the bad what happiness they would. 
One they must want, which is, to pass for good. 

Oh bhnd to truth, and God's whole scheme below. 
Who fancy bliss to vice, to virtue woe I 
Who sees and follows that great scheme the best, 
Best knows the blessing, and will most be blest 
But fools the good alone unhappy call. 
For ills or accidents that chance to all. 
See Falkland dies, the virtuous and the just! 
See god-like Turenne prostrate on the dusti 100 

See Sidney bleeds amid the martial strife 1 
Was this their virtue, or contempt of life? 


Say, was it virtue, more tho' heav'n ne'er gave, 

Lamented Digby! sunk thee to the grave? 

Tell me, if virtue made the son expire. 

Why, full of days and honour, lives the sire? 

Why drew Marseilles' good bishop purer breath. 

When nature sicken'd, and each gale was d^athl 

Or why so long (in life if long can be) 

Lent heav'n a parent to the poor and me? no 

What makes all physical or moral ill? 
There deviates natiu-e, and here wanders will. 
God sends not ill; if rightly understood, 
Or partial ill is universal good, 
Or change admits, or nature lets it fall, 
Short, and but rare, 'till man improv'd it all. 
We just as wisely might of heav'n complain 
That righteous Abel was destroy'd by Cain, 
As that the virtuous son is ill at ease, 
When his lewd father gave the dire disease. 120 

Think we, like some weak prince, th' eternal cause 
Prone for his fav'rites to reverse his laws? 

Shall burning iEtna, if a sage requires. 
Forget to thunder, and recall her fires? 
On air or sea new motions be imprest, 
Oh blameless Bethel I to relieve thy breast? 
When the loose mountain trembles from on high, 
Shall gravitation cease, if you go by ? 
Or some old temple, nodding to its fall, 
For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall? 130 

But still this world (so fitted for the knave) 
Contents us not. A better shall we have? 
A kingdom of the just then let it be : 
But first consider how those just agree. /■ 




The good must merit God's peculiar care; 

But who, but God, can tell us who they are^ 

One thinks on Calvin heav'n's own spirit fell; 

Another deems him instrument of hell; 

If Calvin feel heav'n's blessing, or its rod, 

This cries there is, and that, there is no God. 140 

What shocks one part will edify the rest, 

Nor with one system can they all be blest. 

The very best will variously incline. 

And what rewards your virtue, punish mine. 

Whatever is, is right. This world, 'tis true, 

Was made for Caesar — but for Titus too; 

And which more blest, who chain'd his country, say, 

Or he whose virtue sigh'd to lose a day? 

'But sometimes virtue starves, while vice is fed.' 
What then? is the reward of virtue bread? 150 

Tha/ vice may merit, 'tis the price of toil; 
The knave deserves it, when he tills the soil, 
The knave deserves it, when he tempts the main. 
Where folly fights for kings, or dives for gain. 
The good man may be weak, be indolent ; 
Nor is his claim to plenty, but content. 
But grant him riches, yoiu* demand is o'er? 

V*No, shall the good want health, the good want pow'r?' 
Add health and pow'r, and ev'ry earthly thing, 
*Why bounded pow'r? why private? why no king? 160 
/ Nay, why external for internal giv'n? 

Why is not man, a God, and earth a heav'n?' 
Who ask and reason thus, will scarce conceive 
God gives enough, while he has more to give: 
Immense the pow'r, immense were the demand; 
Say, at what part of nature will they stand ? 


What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy, 
The soul's calm ^n-shine, and the heart-felt joy, 
Is virtue's prize: a better would you fix? 
Then give humility a coach and six, 170 

Justice a conq'ror's sword, or truth a gown, 
Or public spirit its great cure, a crown. 
Weak, foolish man I wUl heav'n reward us there 
With the same trash mad mortds wish for here? 
The boy and man an individual makes. 
Yet sigh'st thou now for apples and for cakes? 
Go, Hke the Indian, in another life 
Expect thy dog, thy bottle, and thy wife, 
As well as dream such trifles are assigned. 
As toys and empires, for a god-like mind. 180 

Rewards, that either would to virtue bring 
No joy, or be destructive of the thing : 
How oft by these at sixty are undone 
The virtues of a saint at twenty-one ! 

To whom can riches give repute, or trust. 
Content, or pleasure, but the good and just? 
Judges and senates have been bought for gold. 
Esteem and love were never to be sold. 
Oh 'fool I to think God hates the worthy mind. 
The lover and the love of human-kind, igo 

Whose life is healthful, and whose conscience clear. 
Because he wants a thousand pounds a year. 

Honour and shame from no condition rise; 
Act well your part, there all the honour lies. 
Fortune in men has some small difFrence made. 
One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade ; 
The cobler apron'd, and the parson gown'd. 
The frier hooded, and the monarch crown'd. 


'What differ more (you cry) than crown and cowl!' 
ril tell you, friend ! a wise man and a fool. 200 

You U find, if once the monarch acts the monk, 
Or, cobler-like, the parson will be drunk, 
Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow ; 
The rest is aU but leather or prunella. 

Stuck o'er with titles and hung round widi strings. 
That thou may'st be by kings, or whores of kings. 
Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race, 
In quiet flow from Lucrece to Lucrece: 
But by your fathers' worth if your's you rate, 
Count me those only who were good and great. 210 
Go 1 if your ancient, but ignoble blood 
Has crept thro' scoundrels ever since the flood, 
Go! and pretend your family is young; 
Nor own your fathers have been fools so long. 
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards? 
Alas I not all the blood of all the Howards. 

Look next on greatness; say where greatness lies. 
* Where, but among the heroes and the wise ?' 
Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed. 
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede; 220 

The whole strange purpose of their lives, to find 
Or make, an enemy of all mankind! 
Not one looks backward, onward still he goes, 
Yet ne'er looks forward further than his nose. 
No less alike the politic and wise ; 
All sly slow things, with circumspective eyes: 
Men in their loose unguarded hours they take, 
Not that themselves are wise, but others weak. 
But grant that those can conquer, these can cheat; 
'Tis phrase absurd to call a villain great: 230 



Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave, 
Is but the more a fool, the more a knave. 
Who noble ends by noble means obtains, 
Or failing, smiles in exile or in chains, 
Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed 
Like Socrates, that man is great indeed. 

What's faine? a fanc/d life in others' breath, 
A thing beyond us, ev'n before our death. 
Just what you hear, you have, and what's unknown 
The same (my Lord) if Tully's, or your own. 240 

All that we feel of it begins and ends 
In the small circle of our foes or friends; 
To all beside as much an empty shade 
An Eugene living, as a Caesar dead; 
Alike or when, or where they shone, or shine, 
Or on the Rubicon, or on the Rhine. 
A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod; 
An honest man's the noblest work of God. 
Fame but from death a villain's name can save. 
As justice tears his body from the grave; 250 

When what t' oblivion better were resigned, 
Is hung on high, to poison half mankind. 
All fame is foreign, but of true desert; 
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart: 
One self approving hour whole years out-weighs 
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas; 
And more true joy Marcellus exil'd feels, 
Than Caesar with a senate at his heels. 

In parts superior what advantage lies? 
Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise? 260 

'Tis but to know how little can be known; 
To see all others' faults, and feel our own: 


Condemn'd in business or in arts to drudge, 
Without a second, or without a judge : 
Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land? 
All fear, none aid you, and few understand. 
Painful preheminence I yourself to view 
Above life's weakness, and its comforts too. 

Bring then these blessings to a strict account; 
Make fair deductions ; see to what they 'mount : 270 
How much of other each is sure to cost; 
How each for other oft is wholly lost; 
How inconsistent greater goods with these; 
How sometimes life is risqu'd, and always ease: 
Think, and if still the things thy envy call, 
Say, would'st thou be the man to whom they fall? 
To sigh for ribbands if thou art so silly, 
Mark how they grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy. 
Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life; 
Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife. 280 

If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin'd, 
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind: 
Or ravish'd with the whistling of a name. 
See Cromwell, damn'd to everlasting fame I 
If all, united, thy ambition call, 
From ancient story learn to scorn them all. 
There, in the rich, the honour'd, fam'd and great. 
See the false scale of happiness complete I 
In hearts of kings, or arms of queens who lay. 
How happy those to ruin, these betray. 290 

Mark by what wretched steps their glory grows, 
From dirt and sea-weed as proud Venice rose ; 
In each how guilt and greatness equal ran. 
And all that rais'd the hero, sunk the man: 

p 2 


Now Europe's laurels on their brows behold, 

But stain'd with blood, or ill exchang'd for gold: 

Then see them broke with toils, or sunk in ease, 

Or infamous for plunder'd provinces. 

Oh wealth ill-fated I which no act of fame 

E'er taught to shine, or sanctify'd from shame 1 300 

What greater bliss attends their close of life ? 

Some greedy minion, or imperious wife, ^ 

The trophy'd ,arches, story'd halls invade, 

And haunt their slumbers in the pompous shade. . 

Alasl not dazzled with their noon-tide ray, 

Compute the morn and ev'ning to the day; 

The whole amount of that enormous fame, 

A tale, that blends their glory with their shame I 

Know then this truth, enough for man to know, 
Virtue alone is happiness below. 310 

The only point where human bliss stands still, 
And tastes the good without the fall to ill; 
Where only merit constant pay receives, 
Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives; 
The joy unequal' d, if its end it gain. 
And if it lose, attended with no pain: 
Without satiety, tho' e'er so bless' d. 
And but more relish'd as the more distress'd: 
The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears. 
Less pleasing far than virtue's very tears : 320 

Good, from each object, from each place acquired, 
For ever exercis'd, yet never tir'd; 
Never elated, while one man's oppress'd; 
Never dejected, while another's bless'd; 
And where no wants, no wishes can remain, 
Since but to wish more virtue, is to gain. 


See the sole bliss heav'n could on all bestow I 
Which who but feels can taste, but thinks can know: 
Yet poor with fortune, and with learning blind, 
The bad must miss, the good, untaught, will find; 330 
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road, 
But looks through nature up to nature's God: 
Pursues that chain which links th' immense design, 
Joins heav'n and earth, and mortal and divine; 
Sees, that no being any bliss can know, 
But touches some above, and some below; 
Learns, from this union of the rising whole, 
The first, last purpose of the human soul ; 
And knows where faith, law, morals, all began. 
All end, in love of God, and love of man. 34cr 

For him alone, hope leads from goal to goal. 
And opens still, and opens on his soul; 
'Till lengthened on to faith, and unconfin'd. 
It pours the bliss that fills up all the mind. 
He sees, why nature plants in man alone 
Hope of known bliss, and faith in bliss unknown: 
(Nature, whose dictates to no other kind 
Are giv'n in vain, but what they seek they find) 
Wise is her present; she connects in this 
His greatest virtue with his greatest bliss; 350 

At once his own bright prospect to be blest. 
And strongest motive to assist the rest. 

Self-love thus push'd to social, to divine, 
Gives thee to make thy neighbour's blessing thine. 
Is this too little for the boundless heart? 
Extend it, let thy enemies have part: 
Grasp the whole worlds of reason, life, and sense. 
In one close system of benevolence: 


Happier as kinder, in whatever degree, 

And height of bliss but height of charity. 360 

God loves from whole to parts: but human soul 
Must rise from individual to the whole. 
Self-love t)ut serves the virtuous mind to wake, 
As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake; 
The centre mov'd, a circle strait succeeds, 
Another still, and still another spreads; 
Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace; 
His country next; and next all human race; 
Wide and more wide, th' o'erflowings of the mind 
Take ev'ry creature in, of ev'ry kind ; 370 

Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest, 
And heav'n beholds its image in his breast. 

Come then, my friend, my genius, come along; 
Oh master of the poet, and the song I 
And while the muse now stoops, or now ascends, 
To man's low passions, or their glorious ends, 
Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise, 
To fall with dignity, with temper rise; 
Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer 
From grave to gay, from lively to severe; 380 

Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease, 
Intent to reason, or polite to please. 
Oh I while along the stream of time thy name 
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame; 
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail. 
Pursue the triimiph, and partake the gale? 
When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose. 
Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes, 
Shall then this verse to future age pretend 
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend? 39° 


That, urg'd by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art 
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart; 
For wit's false mirror held up nature's light; 
SheVd erring pride, whatever is, is right; 
That reason, passion, answer one great aim; 
That true self-love and social are the same; 
That virtue only makes our bliss below; 
And all our knowledge is, ourselves to know. 






• Pope/ says Sir W. Hamilton (Life, by Vcitch, p. 335, note), • was a 
curious reader.' It might be added that he invented little, but borrowed 
the germ of a thought anywhere, and then set himself to elaborate and 
embroider it. He lets us himself into the secret of his art when he says, 
' in Beaumont's Psyche are a great many flowers well worth gathering ; and 
a man who has the art of stealing wisely will find his account in it.' The 
argument and illustration of the Essay on Man may be divided into two 
classes : (i) So much as is the common property of the poets — a vocabulary, 
or Thesaurus Poeticus, which any one wa;i at liberty to use, a liberty which 
Pope has not always disdained ; (a) Peculiar illustrations, drawn from a 
desultory, perhaps lazy, but curious reading. In the first class of allusion, 
we may compare Pope's handling with that of less dexterous writers. The 
other class, viz. illustration peculiar to Pope, throws greater light on his 
method of composition — an exquisite mosaic work. 

Gilbert Wakefield had undertaken the task of collecting parallel passages 
and illustrations. He published one volume of an edition of Pope in 1 794, 
and a volume of * Observations ' in 1 796. He was driven out of the field 
by the superior reputation of Joseph Warton, whose edition appeared in 
1 797. What Warton did in the way of tracing Pope's obligations to earlier 
writers was only to make a beginning. The Notes which follow have 
no pretension to be an exhaustive collection of references. It is hoped that 
they may serve to introduce the young student of our literature into a 
track of research which, if pursued, would bring him acquainted at least 
with the names and general character of a wide variety of English writers. 


1. I. St, John, Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke, who had returned from 
exile in 1723, and was now (173a) residing at Dawley, near Uxbridge. 
' Pope's room, in which he was said to have written the Essay on Man, was 
still shewn [?at Battersea] in Bolingbroke's house. It was a parlour of 
brown polished oak.' Sir Richard Philips ; Morning's Walk from London 
to Kew. In the first ed. (1732) the name was not given, and the poem 
commenced, * Awake, my Lselius I ' The sweetness of studious retirement, 
and the superiority of the philosophic life to the pursuit of * low ambition,' 


was at this time a favourite theme of Lord Bolingbroke's. See his Essay 
On the true use of Retirement and Study, Works, 4. 162 (ed. 1809). 
1. 3. life can little more supply 

Than just to look about us and to die. 
The complaint of Theophrastus, Aristotle's successor, that ' human life ended 
just when the insight into its problems was beginning ; ' Cic. Tusc. Qoaest. 
3. a8| * Querebatur se tum, cum ilia videre caepisset, extingui/ Cf. inf. £p. 
2. 10: 

' Bom but to die, and reasoning but to err.' 
1. 6. maze, Johnson, Diet., 'a labyrinth, or place of perplexity and winding.' 
Dr. Ducarel, Tour through Normandy, describes ' a maze or labyrinth about 
ten feet in diameter, so artfully contrived, that were we to suppose a man 
following all the intricate meanders of its volutes, he would not travel 
less than a mile before he got from the one end to the other.' Milton, 
Hymn on Nature : 

• The yellow-skirted Fayes 
Leaving their moon-lov'd maze.' ' 

Cf. Henry King, Poems, p. 16 (ed. 1843) : 

'Life is a crooked labyrinth, and we 
Are daily lost in that obliquity.' 
1. 9. beat this ample field. Metaphors drawn from field sports abound in 
our earlier writers, both in prose and verse, even on the most serious topics ; ' 
e.g. Henry King, Poems, p. 17 (ed. 1843): 

• O guide my faith ! and by thy grace's clew 
Teach me to hunt that kingdom at the view/ 
Francis Quarles, Cattermole's Selections, i. 209: 

'In the discovery of the chiefest good. 
Keenly they hunted, beat in every brake. 
Forwards they went, on either hand, and back 
Retum'd they counter; but their deep-mouth'd art. 
Though often challeng'd scent, yet ne'er could start 
In all the enclosures of philosophy 
That game, from squat, they term felicity.' 
It is a species of metaphor very familiar to Boling'broke ; e g. his 
celebrated saying of the House of Commons, * they grow, like hounds, 
fond of the man who shews them game.* 

1. 10. covert, Fr. convert^ * thicket affording a shelter to game.' Parnell 
uses the word as an adjective. Health, An Eclogue, 1. 45 : 

' The fox unkennell'd flies to covert grounds.' 
1. 12. who blindly creep or sightless so€U^, Imitated by Gray, Ode to 
Spring, 33 : 

*To contemplation's sober eye 
Such is the race of man ; 
* And they that creep and they that fly 

Shall end where they began.' 
nghdess soar, Bolingbroke is constantly insisting on (Works, vol. 8, 
p. 150) 'the danger we run whenever we soar in the vague of abstract 
reasoning too far from the phenomena of our system. To be real, our 
knowledge must rise in it. To be useful, it must be applicable to it.' 

I' 77 

L 13. shoot folly as it flies. Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel, pt. 1: 
'Observes and shoots their treasons as they fly/ 
Arbuthnot, Works, i. 199 : 

* How well he arches and shoots fljring. 
Let no man thmk that we mean lying.' 
1. 16. vindicate the ways of God to man, * Pope's writings/ says Bowles, 
'are strewed with Miltonic phrases/ The young scholar will recognise in 
this line Milton's Par. Lost, i. a6 : 

• Justify the ways of God to man/ ' 

This is a better description of the subject of the Essay than that of the title, 
Essay on Man. 

1. 17. What can we reason, but from what we know. The principle of 
analogical reasoning in theology is the assumption that the universe being 
regulated by uniform laws, those laws which we can trace in that part of it 
which falls under our observation, extend also to that part of it which we 
cannot see. Of. Milton, Par. Lost, 5. 574: 

• What if earth 
Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein 
Each to other like more than on earth is thought?' 
On the application of analogical reasoning to the doctrine of a future life, 
see Dugald Stewart, Active and Moral Powers, Works, vol. 7, p. 200 (ed. 1 85 5). 
1. 23. He, who tbrougb vast immensity can pierce, * The immensity of 
the material world forces us to conclude that there must be some scheme of 
Providence vast in proportion to it.* Butler, Analogy, pt. I. ch. 3, 

1. 26. circle other suns, * Circling ' is a favourite epithet with Milton, 
but generally intransitive. It is, however, occasionally (as here) transitive, 
eg. Par. Lost, 6. 742 : 

•Then, shall thy saints circling thy holy mount 
Unfeigned hallelujahs to Thee sing/ 
So the Greeks use icv/ckeiVf and Scaliger wished to restore the verb *circo* to 
classical Latin, reading * circat stagna ' for the vulgar * circum.' Tibull. I. 3. 
1. 28. this frame =1 * the universe considered as an arranged system ' = Gr. 
Kofffws. Bacon, Essays, 16: *I had rather believe all the fables in the 
Legend and the Talmud and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is 
without a mind.' 

1. 35.- Presumptuous man. Sec. Voltaire, Diet. Philos. t. 4, p. 211 : 'J'ai 
^te fiatt4 de voir qu'il (Pope) s*est rencontr^ avec moi dans une chose que 
i'avais dite il y a plusieurs aun^es. Vous vous ^tonnez que Dieu ait fait 
Thomme si borne, si ignorant, si pen heureux. Que ne vous etonnez vous 
pas qu'il ne I'ait pas fait plus born^, plus ignorant, et plus malheureux ? * 

\. 37. harder reason. Harder is perhaps intended to suggest the demerit 
of man, who makes a worse use of his higher faculties than the inferior 
animals of theirs. 

1. 41. argent, Milton, Par. Lost, 3, 460, 'Those argent fields/ 
1. 42. Satellitis. Not a false accent, but the pronunciation of the time. 
Cf. Desaguliers, ap. Southey, Specimens of the Later English Poets, vol. 2, 
p. 1S6: 

'By his example in their endless race 
The primaries lead their satellite* 


In the lapse of time the English usage, by which the accent is thrown as far 
back as possible, has prevailed over the Latin pronunciation, in this as in 
other words adopted from foreign languages. So Essay, i. 223, tfctrrier, 

Jove*s Satellite, &c. The four satellites which revolve round 
Jupiter were discovered by Galileo, January 7, 16 10. The mass of the 
largest of the four, as calculated by Struve, is 0.000088, the mass of the 
planet itself being taken as unity. In a rough mode of comparison it may 
be said that Jupiter is 338 times as great as our Earth, and that his smallest 
satellite is about the size of our Moon. 

1. 43. 0/ systems poisible if 'tis eonfest 

That wisdom infinite must form ibe best. 
Conington, Essay on Pope, Oxford Essays, 1858, p. 45 : * Pope did not gene- 
rally condescend to the artificial inversion which places the adjective after 
the substantive. Here we have systems possible followed by wisdom infinite, 
combinations which have the effect of producing a disagreeable monotony, 
occurring in the same part of the lines to which they respectively belong.' 

1. 44. 7T>at wisdom infinite must form the best. Pope begins his argu- 
ment by assuming this axiom from Leibnitz, Th^odic^e, i. 8 : 'Cette supreme 
sagesse, jointe k une bont^ qui n'est pas moins infinie qu'elle, n'a pu xnan- 
quer de choisir le meilleur.' 

Optimism, as defined by Leibnitz, does not mean the affirmation that of 
all systems possible God has chosen the absolutely best, but the best as con- 
ducive to the end intended in the creation. This is the received doctrine of 
the schools. P. Lombard, Sentent. I. dist. 44, 2: 'Deposco cur dicunt 
rerum universitatem...non posse esse meliorem quam est?' 

1. 46. TTjen, in the scale of reas*ning life, 'tig plain. 

There must be, somewhere^ such a rank as man. 
The supposition of a scale of beings gradually descending from perfection to 
nonentity, and complete in every intermediate rank and degree, if not first 
introduced by Leibnitz, was popularised by him. It is the consequence of 
the principle which Leibnitz called ' lex continui.' See Theodic^e, § 14 (ed. 
1 710), and Sur Ic principe de vie, 0pp. Philos. (ed. Erd.) p. 431: *I1 est 
raisonnable qu'il y ait des substances capables de perception au dessous de 
nous comme il y en a au dessus ; et que notre Hme bien loin d'etre la der- 
nike de toutes se trouve dans un milieu, dont on puisse descendre et monter ; 
autrement ce serait un d^faut d'ordre, que certains philosophes appellent 
" vacuum formarum." ' From Leibnitz the hypothesis was adopted gene- 
rally. See Law, Origin of Evil, p. 1 17, note (ed. 1758) ; Addison, Spectator, 
No. 519; Bolingbroke, Works, vol. 5, p. 79. Wieland also has it, Die 
Natur der Dinge, 5. 205 : 

'O sage lieber gleich der Mensch soil gar nicht sejml 
Soil in der ewigen Reih der Moglichen allein, 
Nur er, diess einz'ge Glied der ganzen Kette fehlen.' 
Lessing, Werke, 5.19, shews that the idea of a * full creation' as expressed 
in Pope's lines, is only a partial rendering of the conception of Leibnitz. 
The lines of Pope speak only of the extant species of organised beings; 
Leibnitz' conception was much more extended, and regarded the whole of 
space and the whole of time as an unbroken chain of mutually related 
existences and occurrences. 

. I' 79 

1* 53* ^^ buman Vforh, tbo* laboured on with pain, 8cc. Leibnitz, Sur le 
prindpe de vie, Opp. Philos. p. 432 (ed. £rd.) : * Les lois de la nature sont 
faites et appliqu^ avec tant de sagesse, qu'elles servent h. plus d'un fin.' 
Bolingbroke follows Leibnitz, fragm. 43, Works, vol. 8. p. 179 : 'We labour 
hard, we complicate various means to arrive at one end ; and several systems 
of conduct are often employed by us to bring about some paltry purpose. 
But God neither contrives nor executes like man. His means are simple, 
his purposes various ; and the same system that answers the greatest answers 
the least.' 

I. 56. Vei serves to second ioo some other use. Hooker, Eccl. Pol. i. 9. i: 
' For we see the whole world, and each part thereof so compacted that as 
long as each thing performeth only that work which is natural unto it, it 
thereby preserveth both other things and also itself.' 

II. 60-68. On this passage see Introd. p. 14. 

1. 64. JEgypt's God, the sacred bull kept at Memphis, and called Apis by 
the Greeks. 

1. 70. man 's as perfect as be ought, A principle of the Cartesian school. 
Regis, Metaphysique, a. a. a9 : * II est tr^ facile de concevoir que Dieu 
a pu rendre I'homme plus parfait ; mais si 1' on veut consid^rer I'homme, 
non en lui-m^me, et s^par^ent du reste des creatures, mais comme ua 
membre de I'Univers, et une partie qui est soumise aux loix gen^rales des 
mouvemens, on sera oblig6 de reconnoitre que I'homme est aussi parfait 
qu'il a pu Tetre.' Cf. Leibnitz, Thdodic^e, § 341. 

1. 71. His knowledge measur'd to his state and place, Leibnitz, ubi sup.: 
'La place que Dieu a assignee 4 I'homme dans I'espace et dans le temps 
borne les perfections qu' il a pu recevoir.' 

1. 72. -Of. M. Aiirelius, Meditations, Collier's Transl. (1701): 'Remember 
what an atom your person stands for in respect of the universe, what 
a minute of time comes to your share, and what a small concern you are 
in the empire of fate.' 

I. 73. If to be perfect in a certain sphere. This is one of the obscure 
passages which have been complained of in all Pope's poems. Gray says 
of The Dunciad (Letter to West), • The metaphysician's part is to me the 
worst ; here and there are a few ill-expressed lines, and some hardly intel- 

II. 73-76. If to be perfect years ago. These four lines were 

in the first edition of 1732 after 1. 98. They are irrelevant to the argument, 
and Pope struck them out accordingly in the edition revised by himself in 
X740. Warburton replaced them in the quarto of 1743, in their present 

1. 75. The blest to-day is as completely so, &c. Bayle, Diet. Hist, et Crit., 
art. 'Pauliciens,' note (E) : 'Si la douleur ou la joie nous ^toient communiqu^es 
selon le m§me d^gre cent ans de suite, nous serious aussi malheureux, ou aussi 
heureux, la centieme ann^e que le premier jour.' But Pope's immediate 
source was probably Dryden, Transl. of Lucretius; (Dryden's Works, 
vol. 12, p. 326) : 

*The man as much to all intents is dead. 
Who dies to-day, and will as long be so, 
As he who died a thousand years ago.' 


The thesis is as old as Chrysippus (circ. B.C. 250); see Plutardh, De Stoicis 
Cont. p. 699 : irapct t6v vKciova "xp^vov ovdiv fmWov fvSaifjutvovfftv, dAA' 
dfwiojs ml kviffris rots rbv dfieprj •xp6vov cvSaiftovias firraaxovcriv. 

The sentiment is false, and is justly reckoned among the Stoical quibbles 
or * paradoxes/ Moralists have observed this distinction between satisfaction 
(pleasure) and happiness, that satisfaction is perfect at any given moment, 
happiness demands a full and completely developed term of existence. 
Wollaston, on the other hand, asserts that pleasures are greater by mere 
continuance, Religion of Nature Delineated (1723), p. 59: 'Because all the 
niomerlts of our pleasure must be in some ratio to those of another pleasure. 
And if the degrees of intenseness be multiplied by the moments of duration, 
there must still be some ratio of the one product to the other.' 

1. 77. Heav'ti from all creatures bides the book of fate, Hor. Carm. 

3- 29. 30 • 

* Prudens fiituri temporis exttum 
Caliginosa nocte premit Deus.' 
1. 81. Tbe lamb (by riot dooms to bleed to-day, &c. Cic. De Officiis, 
I. 4: ' Inter hominem et belluam hoc maxime interest, quod haec tantuxn ad 
id quod adest, quodque praesens est, se accommodat, paululum sentiens prae- 
teritum et futurum.' D*Israeli, Cur. of Lit. p. 208, compares Dr. King, 
MuUy of Mountown (i 704) : 

* A gentle lamb has rhetoric to plead. 

And when she sees the butcher's knife decreed. 
Her voice entreats him not to make her bleed.* 
1. 84. And licks tbe band just rats' d to sbed bis blood. Dryden. Transl. 
of Ovid, Met. 15 (Works, vol. 12, p. 211): 

* Deaf to the calf that lies- beneath the knife. 
Looks up and from her butcher begs her life.' 

1. 85. Ob blindness to tbe future 1 kindly givn. To escape thjc many 
difficulties occasioned by attributing souls to brutes, Cartesianism made them 
mere machines, and allowed a soul to man only. Pope, in the present 
passage, gives to brutes sensation, but supposes that the want of the rational 
soul exempts them from the worst part of suffering — the expectation of evil. 

1. 87. Wbo sees wifb equal eye, as God of all, 

A bero perisb, or a sparrow fall. 
The allusion is to the words of Christ, St. Matt. 10. 29 : * Are not two spar- 
rows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground 
without your Father.' But Pope has omitted the distinction drawn by 
Christ between the moral value of the rational and the irrational agent. 
It is perhaps a defect of expression, for Pope seems to say that (he ruin 
of a world is of no more account in the eye of the Supreme Ruler of the 
universe than the bursting of a bubble. He could not have meant this. 
What he means is no doubt to inculcate the doctrine of natural religion 
that Providence extends to the minute as well as to the great. Cf. Plato, 
Leges, 10. 9CX> c : ovhlv hv eirf x^^"^^^ (vSei^affOcu, k. t. A.., * Nor would it 
be very difficult to demonstrate that the gods are no less careful of small 
matters than of such as excel in magnitude.' 

I. 92. Wait tbe great teacber deatb. Imitated by Gifford, Translation of 
Juvenal, 10. 70 : 

* Death, the great teacher, death alone proclaims.' 

/. 8x 

I. 93. What future hlUs^ i. e. in what future bliss shall consist. 

1. 94. But gives that hope to be thy blessing now. It has been objected 
to the sentiment of these lines that Pope has here represented man as 
enabled to bear the evils of life by aid of a visionary illusive fancy. The 
objection is unfounded. That we do not know in what happiness hereafter 
will consist, and yet that we are supported by that hope of an unknown 
future, is the position of catholic theology. As faith is belief in the un- 
proved, so hope is expectation of the unknown. The incognoscibility of 
its object is included by S. Thomas in his definition of the theological virtue 
of Hope^ Summa, sec. ii. quaest. 17, art. 2: * Utrum beatitudo aetema 
sit objectum proprium spei V In Ess. 4. 346, Pope writes less correctly : 

* Hope of known bliss and faith in bliss unknown.' 
1. 97, 2Tbe soulf uneasy and eonfin'd from home. 

Rests and expatiates in a life to come. 
In the Latin theologians, and the books of devotion with which Pope was 
familiar, this life is called * via,' = the pilgrimage; the future life, 'patria,* 
= the home. Cf. Drummond, Flowers of Sion : 

• Think on thy home, my soul, and think aright 
Of what yet rests thee of life's fleeting day.* 

Young, Night Thoughts, Night i : 

*At home a stranger, 
Thought wanders up and down. 
Surprised, aghast, and wond'ring at her own.' 

I. 99. Lo, the poor Indian ! &c. These fourteen lines have always been 
justly admired for their exquisite taste and finish. The same illustration 
recurs Essay 4. 177. 

1. 102. solar wrt/i& as ecliptic; called * The sun's path.* 

I III. Alger, Critical Hist, of Doctrine of a Future Life, p. 73: 'Amid 
the mass of whimsical conceptions entering into the faith of the North Amer- 
ican tribes, we find a ruling agreement concerning a future state of existence. 
Those who have reported their opinions to us, from the earliest Jesuit 
missionaries to the latest investigators, concur in ascribing to them a deep 
trust in a life to come, a cheerful view of its conditions, and a freedom from 
the dread of dying. On the basis of an account written by William Perm, 
Pope composed the famous passage in his Essay on Man.' 

1. 112. His faithful dog. Critics have objected to this, that the dog was 
not a native of the new world. (Warton, Genius, &c., 2. 65.) This is an 
error. Columbus found two kinds of dog in the West Indies, and Fernandez 
describes three in Mexico. See Darwin, Animals and Plants under Domes- 
tication, c. I, p. 23. 

Cf. Macpherson ; Ossian, War of Inisthona, p. 117 (ed. 1762), 'They 
pursue deer formed of clouds, and bend their airy bow. They still love the 
sport of their youth, and mount the wind with joy.* 

1. 126. Men would be angels, angels would be gods. Lord Brooke, 
Poems (ap. Southey, p. 529) : 

♦Which yet falls more by striving to climb higher; 
Men would be tyrants, tyrants would be gods.' 

1. 127. spiring to be gods if angels fell. The fall of the angels has 
been variously asyibed by the fathers to envy, unbelief, lust, curiosity, &c. 



The seyeral opinions are enumerated by S. Bonaventura, in Lib. Ti Sent, 
art. i. q. i. But the prevailing opinion of the majority of the fathers is, 
that it was occasioned by pride, though they are not agreed as to the mode 
in which that rice was exhibited. See Petavius, De Dogmat. 3. 2. 

11. 126-128. These lines are cited by Campbell, Philosophy of Rhetoric, 
3. 2, as an inst^^nce of ' antithesis happily carried through three sentences, 
where the sentences are not contrasted with one another, but where the 
same words are contrasted in the ditferent members of each sentence some- 
what differently.' 

I. 131. Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine. 

Earth for whose use f pride answers, *tis for mine. 
This is a topic on which Bolingbroke is constantly insisting — the error, viz., 
of assuming that man is the final cause of the universe ; e. g. Works, 8. 1 69, 
* Man is the principal inhabitant of this planet. But will it follow from 
hence, that the system wherein this planet rolls, or this planet alone, was 
made for the sake of man ? Will it follow, that infinite wisdom had no other 
end in making man, than that of making a happy creature ? Surely not. 
The supposition is arbitrary, and the consequences absurd.' From Boling- 
broke Pope perhaps derived the stricture. But it was widely diffused through 
the philosophic writings of the day, having been embodied by Descartes in 
his Principia Philosophiae, pars 2\ 2 (Edinburgh transl., p. 168): 'Though 
as far as regards morals it may be a pious thought to beUeve that God made 
all things for us, and though it is even in some sense true, because there is no 
created thing of which we cannot make some use, it is yet by no means prob- 
able that all things were created for us in this way, that God had no other 
end in their creation. This supposition would be plainly ridiculous and inept 
in physical reasoning.' The position was originally derived from the Stoics, 
s^e Seneca De Beneficiis, 4. 23, and references ap. Zeller, Philos. der 
Griechen, 4. 269. To the same effect Leibnitz, Th^odic^e, § 194; Ray, 
"Wisdom of God in Works of Creation, p. 167. Cf. Prior, Solomon, pi. i, 
'But do these worlds display their beams, or guide ' 
Their orbs to serve thy use, to please thy pride?* 
Pope repeats the remark. Essay 3. 27, 

•Has God, thou fool, workM solely for thy good?' 

1. 140. My foot-stool ear A, my canopy the skies. Warton thinks this illus- 
tration faulty. It might be said in its defence, that the poet purposely puts 
an exaggeration into the expression of that pride which he is censuring. But 
we can hardly acquit of bad taste a line, which compels us to remember that 
Isaiah, 66. i, had put the same words into the mouth of Jehovah : * Thus 
saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne, the earth is my foot-stool.* The 
blemish is the more unfortunate, as it occurs in one of the most vivid pas- 
sages of the poem. Boileau is very inferior. Sat. 8. 57, 

Seul de la nature est la base et Tappui, 
Et le dixi^me ciel ne tourne que pour lui.' 

1. 141, The art of Pope's lines will be felt if they are compared with the 
feeble imitation of Voltaire, Po6me sur la Loi Naturelle, 2« parties 
' Quand des vents du midi les funestes haleines 
De s^mence de mort ont inond^s nos plaines» 

/. 83 

Direz vous que jamais le del en son ccnrronz 
Ne laissa la sant^ sojourner parmi nous?' 

n. 143-144. Warton, Genius and Writings, &c., 2. 65. * These lines are 
an example of energy of style, and of Pope's manner of compressing together 
many images without confusion, and without superfluous epithets.' 

1. 143. When earthquakes swallow^ or when tempests sweep, &c. Pope 
refers to the recent earthouakes in Chili. In Feb. 1 732, Chili was visited by an 
earthquake that lasted twenty-seven days, and swallowed up the whole city of 
St. Jago, and persons innumerable. The inundation overflowed the city of 
Conception, and reached as far as Callao, where it mounted the walls and 
filled the square with water. Toone, Chronolog. Hist. Towns and districts 
swallowed by the sea form the subject of a chapter in Pliny's Nat Hist., 2. 94. 

I. 147. Tb* exceptions few. This theory was advocated by Malebranche, 
see his Entretiens M^taphys. 9® Entr. * God,* he said, * as perfectly wise, 
must govern the universe by general laws. The application of these general 
laws to particular cases may produce what is useless or mischievous, without 
any impeachment of the goodness or wisdom of the author of the law. He 
instances rain. It is for the good of the vegetable creation that the rain is 
distributed over the surface of the globe in obedience to the general laws of 
mechanics. Yet how often does it fall on deserts, or overflow in destructive 
inundations.' This is, indeed, the standard doctrine of the schools, S. Thomas 
Aq. Sum. c. Gent 3. 7 if * contingit in his quae aguntur et gubernantur a Deo, 
aliquem defectum et aliquod malum inveniri propter defectum secundorum 
agentium, licet in ipso Deo nuUus sit defectus.' 

some change since all began. A little awkward : ' some change there 
has been since all began.' 

II. 155-170. The doctrine of these lines has been severely censured; by 
M. de Crousaz on the first publication of the poem, and by others since. 
The objections may be reduced to three heads, (i) The permission of wicked 
men cannot be defended by alleging the permission of physical evil. What 
is required is to reconcile the existence of both with the goodness of God. 
(2) The lines seem to ascribe moral evil directly to the First Cause. (3) Hume 
varies objection 2 thus. Essays, vol. l, p. 187 : *-The vices and imperfections of 
men are comprehended in the order of the universe. Let this be allowed, 
and my own vices will be also a part of the same order.* To (l) it was 
replied by Warburton, * Whether partial moral evil tend to the good of the 
universe,*being a question which, by reason of our ignorance of many parts 
of that universe, we cannot decide, we can but reason from analogy. It is a 
thing clear and certain, that partial natural evil tends to the good of our par- 
ticular system.' On (2) we may say that the mystery of the origin of evil is 
one which has never been solved. But in ascribing the existence of wicked 
men to the direct permission of God, Pope is in strict accordance with the 
language of catholic theology. See the commentators on Pro v. 16. 4, 
Isaiah, 45. 7, Exod. 9. 16. To (3) it has been answered by moralists in all 
ages, that, however vice may be related to the order of the universe, it is in 
the individual an object of avoidance, and will be punished both by society 
9aA ha the way of natural consequence. Dugald Stewart remarks on this 
passage, Philos. of the Active and Moral Powers, Works, 7. 132, *The at- 
tempt which Voltaire and other sceptics have made to ridicule the scheme of 

a 2 



optimism, has been much facilitated by the confused and inaccurate manner 
in which it has been stated by some who have propounded it. Among this 
number we must include Pope, who undoubtedly meant to inculcate this 
system in its most unexceptionable form, but who has fallen into various un- 
guarded expressions that appear favourable to fatalism.' 

I. 156. Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline 1 Caesar Borgia, a son of 
Roderigo Borgia, afterwards (1492) Pope by the name of Alexander VI, whose 
name has passed into a bye-word as a monster of wickedness. He assassi- 
nated his brother, and, himself a cardinal, formed a plot for poisoning nine 
of the cardinals. The poisoned wine was, in mistake, drunk by himself and 
his father. The Pope died, but Caesar, owing to his vigorous constitution, 
recovered. He was killed in battle in 1507. 

Lucius Sergius Catilina (died B.C. 62), well known as the author of the 
cons^acy which bears his name, and of which Sallust has written the 

1. 160. young Ammon, So Spenser, F. Q^ i. 5. 48. Garth, Disp^ary, 
canto 1, 1. 45, 

* Young Ammon, Caesar, and the great Nassau.* 
And Prior, Works, I. 183. Amun, spelt Ammon by the Greeks, a Libyan 
deity. Alexander of Macedon, here called * young Ammon,* made a pilgrim- 
age to the shrine of Ammon in the Libyan desert, and was saluted* by the 
priests as the son of their god. Imitated by Byron, Bride of Abydos, canto 
2, St. 4, 

•Which Ammon's son ran proudly round.* 

1. 163. Belsham, Remarks on Pope, Essays, i. 411 : * Objections are raised 
against the general order of Providence, from the prevalence of moral evil. 
But if we admit that the existence of natural evil is consistent, the existence 
of moral evil cannot be inconsistent, with the perfection of the Divine 

nature The poet so far reasons right, as his reasoning tends to prove 

that the existence of natural, and the existence of moral, evil are difficulties 
of the same nature and magnitude ; and, whatever will suffice for a solution 
of the one, will undoubtedly suffice for a solution of the other. But the 
grand difficulty still remains ilnsolved, "Whence comes either?"* 

I. 193. Why bos not man a microscopic eye? From Locke, Essay of 
Human Understanding (1690), bk. 2, ch. 23 : * If man had a microscopical 
eye, and could penetrate into the secret composition and radical texture of 
bodies, he would not make any advantage by the change, if such an acute 
sight would not serve to conduct him to the market and exchange, if he 
could not see things he was to avoid at a convenient distance,' &c. But the 
point of Locke's observation is lost in Pope, by the substitution of * compre- 
hend the heaven,* for Locke's instances of knowledge which is practically 

II. 195-200. These lines are among those of which the construction is 
declared faulty by the grammarians. Touch and Die can only be elliptically 
construed. If Pope had been writing prose, he must have said * supposing 
touch were tremblingly alive,* and 'what should'We gain by dying of a rose?* 

1. 201. If nature thunder' d in his op'ning ears, Locke again, Essay, 2.23: 
• If our sense of hearing were but one thousand times quicker than it is, Row 
•frtuld a perpetual noise distracf us ? We should in the quietest retirement 
ess able to sleep or meditate, than in the middle of a sea-fight. 

I. 85 

I. 203. music of the sphetes. That the rotation of the planets wa$ at- 
tended with sound, each planet giving a note higher than that next it, and 
the seveii spanning the whole octave, was a fancy of the Pythagoreans. 
(Pythagoras, fl. circ. Ol. 60, i. e. B.C. 540.) It was already discredited in the 
time of Aristotle, B.C. 320. Yet it was not wholly abandoned in the sixteenth 
century, as Kepler seems to indulge in speculations very similar. Kepler, 
Harmonice Mundi, 1619. In the time of Pope, however, after the New- 
tonian epoch, the music of the spheres could only be referred to as a dream 
of early astronomy. The conceit is such a favourite, that there is scarce 
one of our writers in the seventeenth century in prose or verse who does not 
repeat it. A few references out of many are here set down. The original 
source is perhaps, the Somnium Scipionis (Cic. de Rep 6. 18), a favourite 
book with our classically trained poets of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries. The classical passage in English poetry is in the learned comedy 
of Lingua, ascribed to Antony Brewer, act 3, sc. 7, 

*P. I hear the celestial music of the spheres 
As plainly as ever Pythagoras did. 
CS. How comes it we cannot hear it now? 
M. Our ears are so well acquainted with the sound 
that we never mark it.' 
Cf. Montaigne, Essays, l. 22 ; Milton, Hymn on the Nativ. 6. 125 ; Donne, 
Devotions, 16; Webster, Dutchess of Malfi, Works, i. 196 (ed. Dyce); 
Drummond, Ellis* Spec. vol. 3, p. 78 ; Sir Thos. Browne, Religio Medici, 
pt. 2, sefe, 9; Merch. of Venice, 5. i. 61. 

The commentators follow Warburton in censuring Pope for illustrating 
a philosophical argument by the example of an unreal sound. But the censure 
is misplaced. All such consecrated fictions, though they abound in classical 
poetry, are false in point of style. But there is no special inappropriateness 
in the present instance. Pope is putting an imaginary case, and was there- 
fore at liberty to employ a noise of imaginary, or supernatural, intensity. 

1. 204. purling, * Purl * denotes the sound caused by the bubbling flow 
of water. Germ, perlen - * to rise in small bubbles like pearls/ Fliig. ; but 
the connection with * pearl * is doubtful. 

1. 208. The scale of sensual^ mental pow*rs ascends. The Cartesian 
doctrine, which had prevailed during the latter half of the seventeenth 
century, had drawn an insurmountable barrier between the brute and the 
human species. According to that doctrine, brutes were automatic machines 
without the rudiments of a * soul.* The apparition of the human mind was 
a miraculous intrusion in nature entirely independent of all phenomena even 
those of the bodily organization. This metaphysical theory gradually gave 
way at the beginning of the eighteenth century to the more correct observa- 
tion of natural groups. 

1. 209. Mark bow it mounts^ &c. Observe the exquisite choice of expres- 
sion in these fourteen lines, which will bear comparison with the most subtle 
passages of Virgil. The harmony of the whole is interrupted to our ear 
ill 1. 223, by the foreign accent on barrier — a word wiiichis now thoroughly 
naturalised and accented on the first syllable. 

1. 217. The spider's touch, bow exjuisitely ^ne. Sir John Da vies, 
Nosce Teipsum, 


'Mach like a subtle spider which doth sit 
In middle of her web which spreadeth wide, 
If aught doth touch the utmost thread of it 
She feels it instantly on every side.' 

I. 219. nice. Of the various applications of this epithet in Old English, 
it now retains bnly two : (i) The objective sense ; of things agreeable to 
the senses, and particularly to that of taste ; (2) The subjective sense ; of 
the discriminating faculties when keen and sensitive. 

1.221. instinct .,,, reason, Dugald Stewart, Elements, vol. 2, p. 8: 
* " Reason ** was first employed to comprehend the principles, whatever they 
are, by which man is distinguished from the brutes ; and afterwards came 
to be limited in its meaning by the more obvious conclusions concerning the 
nature of that distinction, which present themselves to the common sense of 
mankind. It is in its larger meaning, and not in that to which it is now 
restricted, that it is opposed to instinct by Pope.* 

1. 226. sense from thought divide^ i.e. sensation from reason. 

1. 227. And middle natures bow they long to join. Creatures intermediate 
between the fixed grades in the scale of intelligence. 

1. 232. Is not thy reason all these pov/rs in one J Dugald Stewart, Ele- 
ments, vol. 3, p. 274: 'Not that reason is to be considered as the result 
of a combination of various instincts ; but as a power of a superior order, 
fitted of itself to accomplish all thpse multifarious ends, to which the 
infinitely diversified instincts of brutes are subservient.' In this whole train 
of thought Pope perhaps followed Seneca, Epist. 76 : * Ratio ergo perfecta, 
proprium hominis est; cetera illi cum animalibus communia. Valet? £t 
leones. Formosus est ? Et pavones. Velox est ? Et equi. Non dico in his 
omnibus vincitur. Corpus habet ? Et arbores. Habet impetum et motum 
voluntarium ? Et bestiae. Habet vocem? Sed quanto clariorem ' canes, 
acutiorem aquilae, graviorem tauri, dulciorem, mobilioremque lusciniae? 
Quid in homine proprium ? Ratio.' Cf. Shaftesbury, Moralists, pt. 2. § 4; 
Works, vol. 2. p. 300 (ed. 1723): * How comes it that in this noblest of 
creatures (man) ^e should appear so weak and impotent,' 8cc. See the 
whole argument. 

1. 237. Vast chain of being t which from God began. This idea is of 
constant recurrence in the poetry of that age. Cf. Thomson, Summer 


* The mighty chain of beings, lessening down 

From infinite perfection, to the brink 
Of dreary nothing, desolate abyss !* 
Dryden, Ode on St. Cecilia's Day (1687), 240: 

* From harmony, from heav'nly harmony. 
This universal frame began; 

From harmony to harmony 
Through all the compass of the notes it ran. 
The diapason closing full in man.' 
Young, Night Thoughts, Night i : 

* Connexion exquisite of distant worlds I 
Distinguish'd link in being's endless chain, 
Midway from Nothing to the Deity 1' 

/. 87 

D'Isiadi, Cur. of Lit. p. aio, suggests as Pope's immediate source. Waller, 

• The chain that's fixed to the throne of Jove, 
On which the fabric of the world depends. 
One link dissolved, the whole creation ends.' 

Waller, On the Danger His Majesty Escaped, y. i68. 
Pope, perhaps from Bolingbroke, Works, vol. 8, p. 173: *As there is 
a gradation of sense and intelligence here from animal beings imperceptible 
to us for their minuteness without the help of microscopes, and even vath 
them, up to man, in whom, though this be their highest stage, sense and 
iotelligence stop short and remain very imperfect, so there is a gradation 
from man through various forms of sense, intelligence, and reason, up to 
beings who cannot be known by us because of their distance from us, and 
whose rank in the intellectual system is^ even above our conceptions.' 

1. 245. From Nature* s chain whatever link you strike. Pope is here 
enunciating the Stoic tiijuapnivtjf which comprehended Being as well as 
Becoming. See Chrysippus, ap. Aul. Gell. 6. a. 3; Lucan, 6. 610. 

*A prima descendit origine mundi 
Causarum series, atque. omnia fata laborant 
Si quidquam mutasse velis.' 
Cf. Marcus Aurelius, De Reb. Suis, 5. 8, mjpovrcu rb t\6KkripoVf ic.r.K 

1. 251. Let earth unbalancd from her orbit fly. The verbs *run* and 
* nod ' express the consequence of the hypothesis in each case, ' Let earth '— 
*Let ruling angels.' Manilius, Astronomicon, 2. 71 : 

* Quod nisi coguatis membris contexta maneret 
Machina, et imposito pareret tota magistro, 
Non esset statio terris, non ambitus astris, 
Haereretque vagus mundus, standoque rigeret. 
Nee sua dispositos servarent sidera cursus,' &c. 

I. 256. trembles^ previous editions tremble ; corrected by Warburton in 1 751, 
The construction is, * If ruling angels be hurled from their spheres, the eflect 
will be universal confusion throughout the universe.' 

L 265. Just as absurd, to mourn the task or pains 

The great directing Mind of all ordains. 
A sentiment constantly inculcated by Marcus Aurelius, e. g. De Reb. Suis, 
10. 28 : • The man who grieves or takes amiss any event whatever, figure 
such an one to thyself as a pig driven to the altar, resisting and 
squealing,' &c. 

II. 367-280. Dugald Stewart, Active and Moral Powers; Works, vol. 7, 
p. 34 : * These lines have been censured by some writers as savouring of 
Spinozism. I suspect that the authors of this criticism have been but slightly 
acquainted with Spinoza's writings, otherwise they would never have con* 
founded a system which goes to the complete annihilation of every religious 
sentiment with a doctrine, which, although somewhat approaching it in 
phraseology, originated in feelings of deep, if not mystical, devotion. The 
former explains away the existence of God by identifying Him with matter ; 
the latter gives life and expression to matter, by representing every object 
as full of God.' 

Pope doubtless meant in these lines to express the omnipresence of the 
Supreme Mind, Creator and Preserver of the universe. Acts 17. 28: *ln 


Him we live, and move, and have our being.* * To become the soul of the 
world/ says Cardinal Bellarmine, Graduate, Dalton's Translation, p. 196, 
* there is no necessity for God to be of one and the same substance with the 
world ; . . . God is absolutely in everything ; there cannot possibly be any- 
thing where God is not.* S. Jerome, Ad. Marcell. 9. 5 : * In omnibus 
infusus et circumfusus, ut cuncta penetret interior, et contineat exterior.' 
An imaginative mind in daily contact with the life of nature, ever varying, 
yet ever one, is necessarily thrown into this train of sentiment. There is 
therefore no need to explain its frequent recurrence in poetry by imitation. 
The Orphic fragment, preserved to us by Aristotle, Uipl Ko(7/aov, cap. 7, has, 
however, been sometimes thought to be the original of Virgil's celebrated 
lines, Georg. 4. 221 : 

*Deum namque ire per omnes 
Terrasque tractusque maris, caelum«]ue profundum; 
Hinc pecudes, armenta, viros, genus *omne ferarum, 
Quemque sibi tenues nasceuteni arcessere vitas.' 
Cf. Manilius, Astronomicon, 2. 61 : 

'Namque canam tacita naturae mente potentem, 
Infusumque Deum caelo, terrisque, fretoque, 
Ingentem aequali moderantem foedere molem.* 
Thomson, Reasons, Spring, 849. Anonymous 'modernonim quidam/ ap. 
Joan. Sarisbur. Polycraticus, 3. 1 : 

* Vita animae deus est, haec corporis ; hac fugiente 
Solvitur haec, perit haec destituc-nte Deo.* 
Wordsworth, Above Tintern; Works, 2. 163 : 

«I have felt 
A presence that disturbs me with the joy 
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfus'd. 
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns. 
And the round ocean, and the living air. 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man ; 
A motion and a spirit that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 
And rolls through ail things.' 
Drummond, Hymn to the Fairest Fair : 

• Ail-where diffus'd, yet of this all no part,* &c. 
1. 269. TTjat. That is relative either to God or the soul. In either case 
it is the subject of Warms and the following verbs ; therefore the semi- 
colon at the end of 11. 269, 270, is improper. 

1. 275. Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal pari. 
As fullt as perfect, in a hair as heart. 
Dugald Stewart, Elements; Works, vol. 2, p. 262: 'Alliteration pleases 
only on slight occasions, when it may be supposed that the mind is in some 
degree playful, and under the influence of those principles of association 
which commonly take place when we are careless and disengaged. Every 
person must be offended with the second line of the ^.above) couplet, which 
ibrms part of a very sublime description of the Divine power.* 

1. 285. See this topic expanded by Tillotson, Sermons, vol. I, senn. 83. 

//. 89 

1. 2%. secure^ in the sense of * confident.* Browne's Milton, Clarendon 
Press Series, i. p. 261. *Qiiarles' Enchiridion ; 

"The way to be safe is not to be secure." 
Hamlet's father was murdered in his " secure hour." 
** Security is mortal's chiefest enemy.** 

Macbeth, iii. 5. 3a. 
So Ben Jonson in his epode : 

"Men may securely sin, but safely never.*** 
1. 287. Safe in the band of one disposing power. Dugald Stewart, Active 
and Moral Powers; Works, 7. 224: 'To the man who believes that 
everything is ordered for the best, and that his happiness is in the hands of 
a Being who watches over him with the care of a parent, the difficulties and 
dangers of life only serve to call forth the latent powers of the soul by 
reminding him of the prize for which he combats, and of that beneficent 
Providence by which the conflict was appointed.' 
1. 294. Whatever is, is right. Hawkins Browne, De Immortal. Animae, 

(1754). 2. 1401 

' si sapiens justusque sit autor 

Hunc mundi omatum qui protulit atque gubernat, 
Quodcuoque est fit rite, canit prout iile poeta/ 


1. z. Know then tbyself pref:ume not God to scan. 

The proper study of mankind is man. 
Taine, Lit. Angl. 3. 3S9 : * Le premier vtrs resume tout le livre pr&^dent, et 
le second resume tout le livre present ; c'est une sorte d'escalier qui conduit 
d'un temple k un temple, reguli^rement compost de marches symm^triques 
et si habilement plac^es, que de la premiere on aper9oit d'un coup d'oeil 
tout I'ddifice qu'on quitte, et que de la seconde on aper9oit d'un coup d'ceil 
tout r^difice qu'on va visiter.' 

This is the oldest dictum of logic or philosophy on record, and was 
thought so highly of that it was even attributed to the oracle of Apollo. 
Its original purport was to direct curiositv away from the phenomena of 
the universe — light, heat, winds, earthquakes, the succession of the seasons, 
day and night, 8cc. — as inscrutable, towards life and human affairs. The 
contrast intended by Pope is between the futility of metaphysical speculation 
on the attributes of the Deity, and the more profitable employment of the 
study of man. * It is a great height of science,* says Richard of S. Victor, 
De Praeparat. Animi, cap. 75» * perfectly to know oneself. The full know- 
ledge of the rational spirit is a lofty mountain, from the summit of which we 
look down on all philosophy.* Pascal, Pens^es, * Si I'homme commencoit par 
s'^tudier lui-m^me, il verroit combien il est incapable de passer outre.* Cf. 
Quarles' Hierogl)rphics : 

• Man is man's A, B, C, there's none that can 

Read God aright unless he first spell man.' 


Boileau, Epitres, 5. 26 : 

*Je songe k me connaitre, et me cherche en moUmeme 
C'est Ik Tunique ^tude oil je veux m'attacher.' 
Wordsworth says, oa the other hand, 

•The man whose eye 
Is ever on himself, doth look on one 
The least of Nature's works/ 
I. 3. Placd on this isthmus of a middle slate, Cf. Prior, Solomon ; Works, 
vol. I, p. 283: 

* Amid two seas on one small point of land, 
Wearied, uncertain, and amaz'd we stand.* 
Cowley, Ode on Life : 

* Vain, weak-built isthmus, which dost proudly rise 
Up betwixt two eternities.' 
• 1. 8. In doubt to deem himself a God, or beast. Cf. Diderot, ' Le coeur 
humain est tour h, tour un sanctuaire et un cloacque.* 

1. 14. ahus*d or disabused, Abus'd s deceived. Skelton, Speke Parrot, 
376 (before 1520), 'The dull abusyd brayne.* So * abuse,' Quarks' 
Feast for Worms, Med. 4, * How full of dangerous and foul abuse* This is 
one of the few words used by Pope in a sense now obsolete. The French 
retain it in this sense. Abuser, Fr., marks, however, a distinct shade in 
deception. * On trompe celui qui s*en laisse imposer ; on abuse celui qui se 
laisse captiver. II ne suffit pas d'etre d^tromp^ de ce qui nous tient au 
coeur, il faut en £tre d^sabus6.' 

1 17. Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurVd, Sec, From Pascal, 
Thoughts, English Translation, 1704. 'What a chimaera is man! What 
a confused chaos I What a subject of contradiction 1 A professed judge of all 
things, and yet a feeble worm of the earth ; the great depository and guar- 
dian of truth, and yet a mere huddle of uncertainty ; the glory and the 
scandal of the universe 1 ' 

1. 20. For the sentiment, cf. Hor. Carm. I, 2S, 4, 

*nec quicquam tibi prodest 
Aerias tentasse domos, animoque rotundimi 
Percurrisse polum, morituro.' 
1. 22. Correct old time, and regulate the sun. Said by Warburton to be 
an allusion to Sir Isaac Newton's Chronology. Perhaps the reform of the 
Calendar, which was then under discussion, is meant. The * Old Style,' 
which had been disused in the Catholic countries of Europe ever since 1583, 
was reformed in Germany for the Protestant States at the Diet of Ratisbon, 
in 1700. The *New Style' was not introduced into England till 1752. 

1. 23. empyreal, • Of the nature of fire.' Gr. Ifjorvpios ; Ital. emfnreo, 
Dante, Infern. 2. 20; 'neH' empireo ciel.' Pope makes it empyreal ; Gray, 
Ode for Music, St. 2, and Akenside, Pleasures of Imagination, i. 250, have 
empyrean ; Milton has both. The Greek physicists ot later times conceived 
the earth as the centre of seven spheres ; the first contained within the second, 
the second within the third, and all within the seventh. Of* this seventh sphere 
or heaven the element was * of the nature of fire.* It was the home of the 
divine and eternal beings. The soul of man, when disengaged by death 
torn the body, mounts through the lower spheres to the empyreal by the 

II. 9^ 

effect of gravity. It is then in an element of the same nature — ^fiery ether — 
as itself. Cf. Cicero, Tusc. Disp. i. 43. It would seem that this conception 
of the world is not strictly that of Plato (died B.C. 347), though it is attributed 
to him by his commentators. The Latin theologians of the middle age 
made nine spheres, distinguishing the ' iiery' froffi the ' empyrean.' S. Bona- 
venture, In 2, Sentent. Dist. 2. p. a : ' Novem ponuntur caeli largissime acci- 
piendo ; aereum, aethereum, igneum, Olympicum, planetarum, iirmamentum, 
aqueum, empyreum, Trinitatis.' 

1. 24. first good. First, i. e. from which all others are derived ; type, 
prototype, model. These * ideas,' as they were called, had their residence in 
the highest or * empyreal' heaven. 

fair. It has been said that English has no proper equivalent for 
the Greek /ea\6v. * Fair * is used by our oldest writers in this sense, in which 
it is now obsolete. One of Drummond's poems is a Hymn on the Fairest 
Fair. It is an address to God. 

1. 35. mazy. See £p. i. 6. 
foUoiuers, The Neb-platonic school of philosophers, of whom 
Ammonius Saccas (died circ. a.d. 250), is usually considered the first, as 
Plotinus (died a.d. 270) was the most considerable. 

1. 26. Atid quitting sense call imitating God, 'Union with God* would 
be more correct. Plotinus held that the senses (sense) could make known 
to us only the material world. The business of man, or of the philosophic 
man, was to return to God by virtue, by contemplation, and ecstatic 
{quitting sense) intuition of pure deity. Cf. Parnell, A Night Piece : 
• Such joy though far transcending sense 
Have pious souls in parting hence.' 

1. 34. Newton, Sir Isaac Newton ^died 1727), author of the theory of 
Universal Gravitation, the greatest scientific discovery ever made. These 
lines show that Pope in 1 733 was aware that the Newtonian system was 
universally accepted. Yet in the Dunciad, iv. 643 (1742), 
•Philosophy that reached the heav'ns before 
Shrinks to her hidden cause and is no more,' 
he intended a satire on the Newtonian theory. In later editions he altered 
the phrase into * second cause,* which he intended as * a compliment to that 
divine genius.' No discovery, at once so vast and so novel, ever made its 
way to acceptance more quickly. The first edition of Newton's Principia 
was published in 1687. Halley, Wren, and all the leading members of the 
Royal Society, embraced the system immediately and zealously ; and in less 
than twenty years it was introduced into the Universities of England and 
Scotland without a struggle. (See Whewell, Hist of Induct. Sciences, 2. 144.) 

In celebrating Newton in verse Pope had been anticipated. By Thomson 
in an Elegy to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton, 1727 ; by Mallet in The 
Excursion, canto 2 ; and by Desaguliers, see Southey, Specimens, 2. 135. 
He was imitated by Voltaire in his J^piire a la Marquise du Chatelet, 1738. 
Pope's line reads like a travestie of Thomson, who had said with far better 
taste : 

•Whether with angels thou 
Sittest in dread discourse or fellow-blest. 
Who joy to see the honour of their kind*' 


Voltaire also appeals to the • superior beings,* but in a frigid conceit : 

* Pariez, du grand Newton n'eticz vous jaloux.' 
Byron's allusion, Don Juan, canto 7, st. 5, 

• Newton, that proverb of the mind,' 

is so ill-expressed, that it is»only by aid of the context that we can see it 
was meant to be a compliment. Goldwin Smith, Lect. on Mod. Hist., 
I. 49, 50. 

And sbew*d a Newton as we shew an ape. Cf. Introduct. p. il ; Moral 
Essays, 3. 4: 

* That man was made the standing jest of heav'n.* 
Critics have been divided as to the purport of this comparison. Do the 
* superior beings* admire the aspiring intelligence, or ridicule the presump- 
tion, of man ? The words are open to either interpretation. That ridicule 
is intended might be suspected from the parallelism to Milton, Paradise leost, 
8. 762 

• He his fabric of the heavens 
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move 
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide; 
Hereafter when they came to model heaven 
And calculate the stars, how will they wield 
Tt^e mighty frame I how gird the sphere 
With centric and eccentric scribbled o*er. 
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb I * 
For it must be very doubtful if the saying of Heraclitus, brought forward 
by Hurd, who calls it * Plato,* was known to Pope. Fragm. Graec. Philos., 
fr. 43 (ed. Mullach) : ori i^Bpdnrcjv 6 aocpdn-aros rrpbs Oebv iriOrjKos <pav€i' 
rai. Indeed the analogy that man is to angelic beings what the ape is 
to man is common enough in satirical writers. Rochester, in his bitter 
Lines on Sir Car Scrope, says God made a satire 

* on man when He made thee ; 
To shew there were some men as there are apes, 
Fram*d for mere sport, who differ but in shapes.* 
And Palingenius (i. e. Manzolli, a neo-Latin poet, circ. 1520) has it, Zodiacus 
Vitac, Virgo, 182: 

*Simia caelicolum, risusque jocusque Deonim est 
Tunc Homo, cum temere ingenio confidit, et audet • 
Abdita naturae scutari arcanaque Divum.' 
And the whole context of the passage in Pope is directed to depreciate the 
pretensions and humble the aspirations of man. The lines of Pope were 
probably in Wordsworth's mind when he wrote, Prcf. to Lyrical Ballads, 
p. 347. * Why trouble yourself about the species till you have previously 
decided upon the genus? Why take pains to prove that an ape is not 
a Newton, when it is self-evident that he is not a man?* 

1. 44. pride. Not vanity, ptesumption, Fr. orgueil ; but splendour, mag- 
nificence, display, Fr. faste^ Germ, pracbt. Common in this sense in the six- 
teenth and seventeenth century writers, e. g. Spenser, Faery Queene, 1. 12. 14: 

• For th* antique worid excesse and pride did hate.' 
Pope has it often, e. g. Odyss. 8 : 

* Whose ivory sheath enwrought with carious pride! 

77. 93 

Cf. Lat. svperbus, Virg. Aen. 2. 504 : 

' Barbarico postes auro spoliisque superbi.- 

1. 46. leaming^s luxury, or idleness, &c. The abuse of learning is said 
to have been a favourite topic with Pope. He intended to have made it 
the subject of a separate essay in four epistles, but the intention was never 
executed. Cf. Palingcnius, Zodiacus Vitae, Virgo, 575 : 

* Quis non esse putet stultum, qui rebus omissis 
Utilibus propriisque, aliena et inania quaerit,' &c. 
And Montaigne, Essais, 3. 12: * en curiosity de sea voir, il en est de mesme ; 
rhomme se taille de la besongne bien plus qu'il n'en peult faire, et bien plus 

qu'il n'en a affaire C'est aussi ohastrer nos appetits d^sordonnez, 

d'esmousser cette cupidity qui nous espoin9onne k I'estude des livres ; . . . et 
est richement accomphr le voeu de pauvret^, d'y joindre encores celle de 
Tesprit.* Montaigne followed his favourite Seneca, who enlarges on the 
topic, Ep. 88. Johnson, Life of Milton, sneers at * the fantastic luxury of 
various knowledge.' See also Young's Satires, Sat. 2 : 

* Study 's the specious trifling of the mind/ 
Looking over the history of learning, it is true that there has been much 
waste of intellectual labour. But over-production seems to be both in nature 
and art the condition of production. What Cicero says of philosophy may 
be extended to all knowledge, Tusc. Disp. 2. i : ' Difficile est pauca esse ei 
nota cui non sint aut pleraque aut omnia. Nam nee pauca nisi e multis 
eligi possunt, nee, qui pauca perceperit, non idem reliqua eodem studio 

1. 50. 0/ all our vices have created arts, i. c. * of all those devices of luxury 
which our vices have created into arts.* Arts, i. e. logic, rhetoric, poetry, 
&c. On the academic sense of the word arts, see Sir William Hamilton, 
Lect. on Metaphys. vol. i, p. 115. 

I. 59. acts the soul, Cf. Ess. 3. 315 : 

'So two consistent motions act the soul.* 
Lowth, English Grammar, condemns this use of act as a solecism. But 
though this sense might be lost in Lowth's time, act, like Lat. a^o, was both 
active and' neuter. Cf. Prior, Solomon; Works, i. 223 : 

'Should only act and prompt us from within.* 
Locke, Essay, 3. 6. 26, has * acted by ;' and Addison, Spectator, 285, * The 
ancient cri ticks who were acted by a spirit of candour.* Bp. Butler, however. 
Diss, on the Nature of Virtue, uses the modern * actuate.* ' Brute creatures 
are impressed and actuated by various instincts and propensions ; so are we.* 

II. 61, 62., Man, but for that, no action could attend. 

And, but for this, were active to no end, 
Tbat must refer to self-love, this to reason ; but the statement that without 
reason man were active to no end, is not strictly correct. In Pope*s analysis 
of moral action, self-love is the moving, and. reason the guiding, power. 
Self-love therefore supplies what is technically called the end, reason directs 
the means. Perhaps the confusion is with that function of reason described 
below, 1. 74, by which it sees the future and tie consequence. Bacon, too, 
De Augment. 6. 3, says, * Notandum est affectus ipsos ad bonum apparens 
semper ferri, atque hac ex parte aliquid habere cum ratione commune; 
verum illud interest, quod aiiectus intuentur praecipue in praesentia ; ratio 


prospiciens in longum etiam futurum.* Mr. Mayor, Contemp. Rev. T4. lai, 
however, thinks to no end here may mean * temere, frustra,* * to no purpose.' 

1. 81. schoolmen. In the narrower sense schoolmen means the philosophic 
divines of the, middle ages. Hooker, i. 11. 5, says 'school divines.' Here 
it is to be taken in ^e wider sense, all who treat of morals in a technical 
way proper for the schools and not for the public. Gay, Fables, Introd., 
'A deep philosopher, whose rules 
Of moral life were drawn from schools.' 
these friends, i. e. reason and self-love. 

1. 82. More studious to divide than to unite. Bacon, Adv. of Learn, i. 
4. 6 : ' The method of handling of a knowledge among the schoolmen was 
this; upon every particular position to frame objections, and to those 
objections, solutions; which solutions were, for the most part, not con- 
futations, but distinctions ; whereas indeed the strength of all sciences is, as 
the strength of the old man's faggot, in the bond.* Cf. Bacon^s Essays, 50 : 

* If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the 
schoole-men ; for they are " cymini sectores." ' Lord Brooke, Of Humane 
Learning, st. 20 : 

* From whence wit a distemper of the braine 
The Schools conclude; and our capacity 
How much more sharpe, the more it apprehends, 
Still to distract and less truth comprehends.' 
1. 83. And grace and virtue, sense and reason split. Split, awkward for 
•part.* sense =* the senses,' or the faculties of sensation. ,• 

1. 93. Modes of self-love the passions we may call. This confusion of 
thought is found commonly in the popular moralists of the time. Pdpe 
might have found it corrected in Butler, Sermons (1 7 26),. p. 42, note (ed. 
Whew.) : * Everybody makes a distinction between self-love and the several 
particular passions, appetites, and affections; and yet they are often con- 
founded again. That they are totally different will be seen by any one who 
will distinguish between the passions and appetites themselves, and endeavour- 
ing after the means of their gratification.' 

1. 94. 'Tis real good, or seeming, moves them all. The passions are not 
moved by good, which is an idea of the reason, but by their respective 
objects of desire. 

1. 98. List. Jer. Taylor, Liberty of Prophesying, a. § I : • We perceive 
who were listed by them in the catalogue of heretics.* Elwin, note in loc. : 

• List, which would probably now. be thought a vulgarism, was, in Pope's 
day, the established word. Our form " enlist " was apparently unknown to 
Johnson, who did not insert it in his dictionary.' 

1. 99. 7^050, that imparted, i. e. the passions when reason is imparted to 
them. Again the fault of obscurity. 

1. 10 1. a^a/£>y= insensibility, a state in which the mind is not capable of 
being moved by an impression. This is the ordinary sense of the word. 
But the Stoical apathy (andOeia) was a calm superiority to perturbation, the 
state of the perfectly disciplined mind, or * wise ' man. The epithet lazy is 
an improper one. Indeed it is the reverse of the truth, as the Stoic philo- 
sophy particularly encouraged political life. Hor. i. Ep. i. 16: 

. .... .*Nunc agilis fio et mersor civilibus undis, 

Virtutis verae custos, rigidusque satelles/ 

77. 95 

lines which describe Horace's Stoical fit in contrast with his Epicurean lazi- 
ness. S. Augustine states the Stoical doctrine correctly, De Civ. Dei, 9. 5 : 
'Passiones in animum sapientis admittunt, quem vitiis omnibus liberum 
volunt. Haec ipsa non putant vitia, quando sapienti sic accidunt, ut contra 
virtutem mentis, rationemque nihil possint.' 

1. 106. Parts it may ravage^ but preserves the whole. Alluding to the 
effect of hurricanes in the tropics in purifying the atmosphere. 

I. 108. card. Bacon, Essays, 18: 'Let him carry with him also some 
card, or book describing the country.' Adv. of Learn. 2. 23. 46. Carew, 
Poems, p. 94 (ed. 1824) : 

* A troop of deities came downe to guide 
Our steerlesse barkes in passion's swelling tide 
By vertue's carde.* 
In this sense we now say * chart,* following the French form. German has 
but one sound for both • chart * and * card ' (pack of cards) • Kafte ;' though 
Goethe sometimes writes * Cbarte * (for * Karte *). Dyce, Glossary to 
Shakespeare, quotes Coles' Lat. and Engl. Diet., * A sea-card, charta marina.' 
Sylvester, Du Bartas, p. 256 : * Such if my card and compasse do not fail, 
we're near the port,' where the original has * mon quadrant et ma carte 
marine.' In Macbeth, i. 3. 17, Clar. Press Series, p. 83, however, the ex- 
planation of Dr. Nares is adopted, * the mariner's compass, or the paper on 
which the points of the wind are marked.' 

Reason the card, but passion is the gale, Fontenelle, CEuvres, I. 109 : 
' Ce sont les passions qui font et qui defont tout. Les passions sont chez 
les hommes des vents qui sont n^cessaires, pour mettre tout en mouvement 
quoiqu'ils causent souvent les orages.' 

1. 109. Nor God alone in the still calm we find. Perhaps an allusion to 
Ps. 18. 10, and I Kings 19. 12. 

1. 118. the family oj pain, Juvenal, Sat. 10. 218: 

' circumsilit, agmine facto, 
Morborum omne genus.' 
Dry den, State of Innocence, act 5, sc. i : 

•With all the numerous family of death;' 
imitated by Gray, Ode on a distant Prospect of Eton College, 

• The painful family of death.' 
1. 121. The lights and shades, whose well-accorded strife, &c. Ford, 
Lover's Melancholy, act 4, sc. 3 : 

* Man in himself contains 
Passions of several qualities ; the music 
Of man's fair composition best accords 
When 'tis in concert, not in single strains.* 

1. 125. present future. Present and future pleasures. 

I. 126. The whole employ of body and of mind. Montaigne, Essays, i. 19 : 
' Let the philosophers all say what they will, the main thing at which we all 
aim, even in virtue itself, is pleasure.' 

1. 131. master-passion. This idea is further insisted on. Moral Essays, i. 
174, seq.: 

' Search, then, the ruling passion ; there alone 
The wild are constant, and the cunning known,' &c. 



Cf. Bacon, Adv. of Learning, i. 23. 24, * Neither is it sufficient to inform our- 
selves in men's ends and natures of the variety of these only, but also of the 
predominancy, what humour reigneth most, and what end is principally sought.* 

1. 132. Aaron's serpent. Bacon, Adv. of Learning, 2. intr. 14, uses the 
same illustration, but, by a lapse of memory, says, * Moses' serpent.' 

I. 133. As man, perhaps, the moment of bis breath 
Receives the lurking principle of death, 
Manilius, Astronomicon, 4. 16: 

* Nascent es morimur, finisque ab origine pendet.* 
Seneca, Here. Fur. act. 3, v. 874 : 

•Prima quae vitam dedit hora carpsit/ 

1. 144. peccant part, Dryden, Juvenal, 10. 489: 

*one with cruel art 
Makes Colon suffer for the peccant part.* 

1. 150. this weak queen, i. e. reason. 

1. 153. Teach us to mourn our nature, not to mend. Jeremy Taylor, 
Doctrine of Repentance, c. 8, § I : * The old philosophers said that virtue 
was nothing else but a disposition and force of reason; yet this reason 
served to Uttle other purposes, but to upbraid our follies and infelicities, and 
to make our actions punishable by representing them to be unreasonable.' 

1. 167. Like varying winds by other passions tost. Other passions like 
shifting winds toss us hither and thither. 

1. 168. This drives them constant to a certain coast. Dugald Stewart, 
Active and Moral Powers, vol. i . p. 17: * According to the particular active 
principle which influences habitually a man's conduct, his character receives 
its denominatioa of covetous, ambitious, studious, or voliq>tuous; and his 
conduct is more or less systematical as he adheres Uy his- general plan with 
steadiness or inconstancy. A systematical steadiness in the pursuit of a 
particular end, while it is necessary for the gratification of our ruling 
passion, is far more favourable to the general improvement of the mind than 
the dissipation of attention resulting from an undecided choice among the 
various pursuits which human life presents to us.' 

1. 174. All, all alike, find reason on their side. La Rochefoucauld, 
Pens^es, p. 336 (ed. 1777): * La raison se met sou vent du c6t6 du plus fort 
passion ; il n'y a pas de violent passion qui n'ait sa raison pour s'autoriser.* 

1. 181 and foL The passions are the stock on which the virtuous habits 
'are grown. 

As fruits, ungrateful to the planter's care. 
On savage stocks inserted, learn to bear. 
This is very negligently worded. It is the savage stock, not the fruit, which is 
ungrateful ( = Lat. ingratus) and which learns to bear by being grafted upon. 

1. 189. Ltistf thro' some certain strainers well refin'd, &c. 
' Ce qui ^paisse parait grossi^re 
Bien coulee h, toute femme sait plaire. 

1. 195. Thus nature gives us, &c. There is a confusion, but of expression 
only, here. He has just represented virtue as a creation of culture upon the 
natural passion. What is given by nature, therefore, is the passion ; what 
is ours, is the virtuous disposition created upon the passion by reason. 

1. 196. The virtue nearest to our vice ally'd. Pope, ap. Spence, Anecdotes, 
L 'Esprit, La Rochefoucauld, and that sort of people, prove that all 

//. 97 

▼irtnes are disguised vices, I would engage to prove all vices to be disguised 
virtues. Neither indeed is true ; but this would be a more agreeable subject, 
and would overturn their whole scheme.' 
L 199. The fiery soul. Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel, PL I : 

*A fiery soul which working out its way.' 
1. 199, &c. Nero — Titus — Catiline — Decius — Curtius. The historical re- 
ferences require no explanation. There is no special propriety of allusion. 
Hence the passage is weak; we feel that many other names would have 
served the purpose as well. 

1. 204. The God within the mind. Not, as Warburton explains, ' a Pla- 
tonic phrase for conscience,' but * reason,' as above, 1. 197. Cf. Marcus 
Aurelius, De Reb. Suis, 27 : &uftotr, ovros Hffriv 6 kicaffTov vov$ nai \6yos, 

1. 217. Vice is a monster of so frightful mien. Cf. Plato's saying of 
philosophy, Phaedrus, p. 250 d, transferred by Cicero to virtue, De Officiis, 
I. 5 : ' Formam et tanquam faciem honesti vides; quae si oculis cemeretur, 
mirabiles amores, ut ait Plato, excitaret sapientiae.' Whence Milton, Paradise 
Lost, 4. 849 : 

'Abash'd the devil stood. 
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw 
Virtue in her shape how lovely;* 
and Dxyden, Hind and Panther, I. 52 : 

*For truth has such a face and such a mien 
As to be lov'd needs only to be seen.' 
n. 349-252. That society originated in mutual need was observed in the 
infancy of political theory. The principle may be found stated in philo- 
sophers of every shade of opinion, e.g. Hooker, Eccl. Pol. I. 10. i; 
^Shaftesbury, Characteristics, vol. 2, p. 308 ; Hobbes, Leviathan. In these 
four lines of Pope it is expressed with a condensed energy which it would be 
difficult to improve upon. Dugald Stewart, Active and Moral Powers, 
Works, 6. 139, contrasts this passage with the well-known lines of Lucretius, 
5. 223, • Tum porro puer,' &c. 

L 259. Taught half by reason, half by mere decay. Montaigne, Ess., 
vol. I, p. 78 (Cotton's transl.) : * By how much I have less to do with the 
commodities of life, by reason I begin to lose the use and pleasure ot them, 
by so much I look upon death with less terror and amazement,' Cf. Keble, 
Christian Year, All Saints' Day : 

'Reposing in decay serene. 
Like weary men when age is won.' 
Pope' writes to Martha Blount, Sept. 1733, ' Life, after the first warm heats 
are over, is all down hill; and one almost wishes the journey's end.' 
Juvenal, Sat. 10. 358 : 

'Qui spatium vitae extremum inter munera ponat 
Seneca, Ep. 30: 'Mortem venientem nemo hilaris excipit, nisi qui se ad 
earn diu composuerit.' 

L 268. 50/, here = ' drunkard,' though often employed by contemporary 
writers in the French sense of * fool,' e. g. Young, Satires, Sat. 2 : 
• Solemnity 's a cover for a sot, 
I find the fool, when I behold the skreen.' 


98 £SSAy Olf MAN. 

]. 37a. And pride hestou/d on all, a common Jriend, ' Pride '«' self- 
esteem/ * self-satisfaction.' La Rochefoucauld, Reflexions, No. 40: • Nature, 
who so wisely has fitted the organs of our body to make ns happy, seems 
likewise to have bestowed pride on us, on purpose, as it were, to save 
us the pain of knowing our own imperfections.' This subject is pursued 
by Helvetius, De TEsprit (1758), 2. 4. 

1. 275. Pleas'd with a rattle, tickled vtUb a straw. Cf. Garth, Dispensary, 
canto 5, 1. loi : 

* Children at toys, as men at titles aim ; 
And in effect both covet but the same. 
This Philip's son prov'd in revolving years. 
And first for rattles, then for worlds, shed tears.' 
Hutcheson, Of the Passions, p. 1 31 7: *We once knew the time when a 
hobby-horse, a top, a rattle, was sufficient pleasure to us. We grow up, we 
now relish friendships, honour, good offices, marriage, offspring, serving a 
conmiunity or a country.* The well-known lines of Horace, A. P. 166, 
are thus reproduced again and again. Warton considers that Pope had 
not seen Hutcheson's books. But Spence, Anecdotes, p. 165, reports 
a remark of Pope which implies that he was not unacquainted with their 

1. 279. scarfs. Scarf , in the sense of a badge of honour, was in Pope's 
day appropriated to doctors of divinity. The Spectator, No. 2T, compares 
bishops, deans, and archdeacons, to generals; doctors of divinity, and 
all that wear scarvest to field-officers; and the rest of the clergy to 
subalterns. Id. No. 609, complains of its promiscuous use by young divines 
after their first degree at the university, who wish to pass themselves off as 
doctors of divinity. 

garters, i. e. the insignia of orders of knighthood. 
1. 280. beads, i.e. the rosary, a string of beads employed to reckon the 
number of paternosters and aves said. Fr. rosaire; 'bead' is from A.S. 
gebed, hede^* i^izytx* See Morris, Chaucer, Gloss., s. v. 

And beads and pray*r-books are the toys of age, Cf. Byron, Ode to 
Napoleon Bonaparte, st. 8 : 

* The Spaniard, when the lust of sway 
Had lost its quickening spell, 
Cast crowns for rosaries away. 

An empire for a cell; 
A strict accountant of his beads, 
— A subtle disputant on creeds,* &c 


///• 99 


1. I. Jlere then we rest. An improvement upon the early editions, ' Learn, 
dulness, learn.' Crousaz thinks the pretension to know the one end to which 
the universal cause acts, inconsistent with Essay, I. 21 : 

• *Tis ours to trace him only in our own/ 
I. 2. Acts to one end. i.e. *the general good,' see 1. 14. 

1. 3. madness Of superfluous bealtb, Habington, Castan, p. 1013 
(SouUiey, Poets) : 

* How soon she leaves the pride of wealth 
The flatteries of youth and health.' 

1. 4. life trim of pride. Wedgwood ; • trim, adj. what is properly decked 
out ; to trim a garment is to set it in order, to give it the necessary orna- 
ments to set it off.' Milton, Comus, lao, 'Daisies trim;' as subsL Ode to 
Nature, 33: 

•Nature had dofft her gaudy trim.' 

1. 9. plastic. Gr. vXaaTiKoe, Johnson : ' having the power to give form.' 
Dunciad, i. loi : 

* So watchful Bruin forms with plastic care 
Each growing lump and brings it to a bear.* 
It is an error to use this word, as is now not unfrequently done, in a passive 
sense for 'ductile.' Webster, Malcontent, vol. 4, p. 49 (ed. Dyce), has 
'plastick' subst. in the sense of a clay mould. 

1. 10. An accurate statement of the attraction of cohesion. 

I. 13. See matter next, with various life endu'd. i. e. organised bodies in 
contrast to the single atoms of which inorganic bodies are composed. 

1. 14. Press to one centre. Here is a confusion of thought. The centre 
to which atoms press is a material centre ; the living beings with which the 
earth is peopled can only metaphorically be said to concur to a moral centre 
as contributing to the good of the whole. 

1. 15. See dying vegetables life sustain. Shaftesbury, Characteristics, vol. 
2, p. 215: ' The vegetables by their death sustain the animals, and animal 
bodys dissolv'd enrich the earth and raise again the vegetable world. The 
numerous insects are reduc'd by the superior kinds of birds and beasts, and 
these again are checked by man, who in his turn submits to other natvres, 
and resigns his form a sacrifice in common to the rest of things.' Pope's 
statement of the cycle of life does not yield in beauty of expression to 
Lucretius, 2. 70 seq., itself perhaps suggested by Plato, Legg. 6, p. 77^ h. 

1. 19. Like bubbles on the sea of matter bom. Leibnitz, Th^odic^e, § 8: 
According to some peripatetics, * les ames des animaux naissent en se d^ 
tachant comme des gouttes de leur oc^an, et elles p^rissent en se rejoignant 
it I'oc^an des &mes quand le corps est d^fait comme les ruisseaux se perdent 
dans la mer.* So the Vishnu Purana : ' As the drops of water raised from 
the earth by the wind sink into the earth again, when the wind subsides, so the 
variety of gods, men, and animals, which have been detached by the agitation 
of the qualities, are reunited, when the disturbance ceases, with the Eternal. 
The whole obtains its destruction in God like bubbles in water.' Cf. Young, 
Satires, Sat. 2 ult. : 

H a 


* For what are men who grasp at praise sublime, 
But bubbles on the rapid stream of time* 
That rise and fall, that swell and are no more. 
Born, and forgot, ten thousand in an hour/ 
And Henry King (Beaumont), King's Poems, p. 119 : 
*0r like a wind that chafes the flood. 
Or bubbles which on water stood, 
E'en such is man/ 
1. 37. Has God, tboufooll work'd solely for thy goodf Cf. Essay, 1. 131 
note. Maimonides (died a.d. 1 205) had already employed this as an answer to 
similar objections. Leibnitz, Th^odic^e, § 262 : ' La cause de leur erreurest 
qu'ils s'imaginent que la nature n'a 6t6 faite que pour euz, et qu'ils comp- 
tent pour rien ce qui est distinct de leur personne; d'oh ils infSrent que 
quand il arrive quelque chose contre leur gr^, tout va mal dans I'Univers/ 

1. 33. Is it for tbee the linnet pours bis tbroat f Imitated by Gray, Ode to 
Spring, 1. 5 : * The Attic warbler pours her throat/ 
Pope more correctly bis throat, the female bird having n6 song. Milton errs 
in the same way, Par. Lost, 4. 600 : 

*A11 but the wakeful nightingale; 
She all night long her amorous descant sung/ 
Milton, P. L. 7> 438. makes the swan feminine, for which he is reprehended by 
Bentley as against the usage of both Greek and Latin. To * pour ' song, or 
sound, is an expression used by many poets after Simonides of Ceos, Fr. 150. 
8, "^^ TTvevfut x^<w. Note the exquisite refinement by which • to pour his 
note ' is raised into pour bis tbroat : any harshness of the metaphor being 
. subdued by the repetition of the idea in the next line, swdl the note, c£ 
Collins, Ode to Liberty, st. 2, ' pour'd his soul.' 

1. 46. * See man for mine !' replies a pampered goose. Charron, Of Wiscdome, 
ch. 40, Lennard's translation : * Man beleeveth that the heaven, the starres, 
all this great celestiall motion of the world is onely made for him. He 
stickes not to say that he enjoyeth the heavens and the elements, as if all 
had been made, and still more, onely for him. In this sense a gosling may 
say as much, and perhaps more justly, more peremptorily.' Cudworth, In- 
tellectual System of the Universe, p. 875 1 • The atheist supposes that, accord- 
ing to the general persuasion of theists, the world and all things therein were 
created only for the sake of nian. But this seemeth at first to have been an 
opinion only of some straitlaced stoicks, though afterward reconunended to 
others also by their own self-love, their overweening and puffy conceit of 
themselves. And so fleas and lice, had they understanding, might conclude 
the bodies of other greater animals and men also to have been made only 
for them.' This is the moral of Gay's Fable, 49, • The Man and the Flea/ 
I. 48. Who thinks all made for one, not one for all. Cf. the celebrated 
passage of Plato, De Legg, p. 903 b, S>v tv teai t6 cbv fiSptov ect rd vav 
(WT€ii/u p\4irov del, «. t. \. Jowett's transl. : * One of these portions of the 
universe is thine own, stubborn man, which, however little, has the whole in 
view, and you do not seem to be aware that this and every other creation 
is for the sake of the whole, and in order that the life of the whole may be 
blessed, and that you are created for the sake of the whole, and not the whole 
for the sake of you/ 


1. 49. Grant thai the powerful still the weak confront, Harrington, Oceana, 
p. 5a (cd. 1 771): * There be who say that let a commonwealth be as equal 
as you can imagine, two or three men, when all is done, will govern it. To 
which I answer . . . .' 

1. 50. wit and tyrant. WiVss intelligence, as below, 1. 231. Though, ac- 
cording to the eternal order, all things are to work together for good, yet it 
must be granted that man, the only being endued with reason, has made 
himself absolute master of the rest. But then this despotic power is admi- 
nistered for the good of the whole. Cf. the clown's reply to Pythagoras in 
Gay, Fable 36 : 

• ** Hold,** cries the clown with passion heated, 
*' Shall kites and men alike be treated ? 
When Heav'n the world with creatures stor'd, 
Man was ordain'd their sovereign lord.*' ' 

1. 51. be only knows^ 

And helps, another creature's wants and woes. 
Law, Note on King, Origin of Evil, p. 117 (ed. 1758): • They who imagine 
that all things in this world were made for the immediate use of man alone, 
ran themselves into inextricable difficulties. Man, indeed, is the head of this 
lower part of the creation, and perhaps it was designed to be absolutely under 
his command. But that all things here tend directly to his use is not easy 
to be proved. Some manifestly serve for the food and support of others. . . , 
They are intended to promote each other's good reciprocally. Nay, man 
himself contributes to the happiness and betters the condition of brutes in 
several respects, by cultivating and improving the ground, by watching the 
seasons, by protecting and providing for them, when they are unable to 
protect and provide for themselves.* 

1. 55* the jay. The jay (Corvus glandarius, Linn.) may be classed among 
omnivorous birds. Selby, Ornithology : * Its food consists of acorns, beech- 
mast, grain, and various products of the garden, amongst which cherries and 
pease are particular favourites. It also devours insects and worms.' 

1. 56. Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings? Cf. Hesiod. Op. et 
Dies, 205. 

Philomela. The nightingale {Sylvia luscinia) acquired the name 
in the Latin (not in the Greek) poets, by the adoption of one particular 
version of the legend of Procne and Philomela, which is very variously told. 
From the Latin poets it was transmitted, as part of the poetical vocabulary, 
through the Italians to the rest of Europe. Milton has 'Philomel,' 
Penseroso, 56 : • 'Less Philomel will deign a song.' 

1. 65. Nay, feasts the animal he dooms his feast. That the slaughter of 
animals for food is consistent with the good of the whole is argued by 
Abp. King, Origin of Evil, p. 164 : * God could have created an inanimate 
machine which might have supplied men with such food, but one that is 
animated does it much better and with more ease. A being that has life is 
preferable to one that has not ; God therefore animated that machine which 
furnishes out provision for the more perfect animals ; by this means he gained 
so much life to the world as there is in those animals which are food to 
others. An ox or a calf is bred, nourished, and protected, in order to be- 
come fit food for man,' 


One of the greatest difficulties in the way of the natural theologian has 
been to reconcile the facts of the treatment of the lower animals by maa 
with the theory of optimism. The question had been a prominent one ia 
the discussions of the Greek philosophers. It had slept through the Middle 
Ages, but was inevitably revived on the revival of philosophy in the seventeenth 
century. There are three principal opinions on the subject. ( i) That which 
condemns altogether the use of animal food. This is the opinion advocated 
by some of the leading Greek writers, e. g. Theophrastas, Plutarch, For* 
phyrius. (2) The hypothesis that brutes were animated machines, and desti- 
tute of sensation, — ^the Cartesian tenet. (3) The view here adopted by Pope. 
The history of opinion on the subject is given, but very imperfectly, by Guer, 
Histoire Critique de TAme des BStes, 2 tomes, 1 749, and by Rtbovius in his 
edition of Rorarius, 1 728. The best discussion of the ancient theory is that 
of Bemays, Theophrastos iiber Frommigkeit, Berlin, 1866. Lecky has touched 
upon the sentiment of the Middle Ages, European Morals, 2. 171. 

1. 68. touch, A Latinism ; ' de caelo t|ctus,' ' struck by lightning/ The 
expression * touch ethereal ' is borrowed from Milton, Samson Agon. 549, but 
in Milton it is applied to the rays of the rising sun. 

favoured man. Pope has this note : ' Several of the ancients, and many 
of the orientals since, esteemed those who were struck by lightning as sacred 
persons, and the particular favourites of Heaven.' I cannot discover on what 
Pope grounds this statement. It is in direct opposition to the Greek senti- 
ment, which regarded lightning .as the instrument of Jove's wrath, and the 
tt€paw<oOivre$ as the objects of his punishment. A statement is ascribed to 
Plutarch to the effect that 'persons struck with lightning were held in 
honor.' But this is an error. Plutarch says nothing of the kind. Mr. 
Westcott suggests that Pope was- misled by a note of Joshua Barnes on 
Eurip. Suppl. 935, and the ambiguity of the Latin word * sacer.' Or is it 
only a confusion of the dyavci fii\(a of Ap6llo (II. 24. 759, Od. 15. 409) 
with lightning? It was a fixed idea with Pope. He employs it agaia ; 
Epitaph in Stanton Harcourt church : 

'Victims so pure, Heav'n saw well-pleased. 
And snatch'd them in celestial fire.' 

1. 71. To each unthinking being, heav'n a friend. That the fear of 
death does not mar the happiness of the living had been argued before. 
Essay, I. 77. 

1. 76. Death still draws nearer, never seeming near, Bulstrode, Essays, 
p. 384 (171 5): 'There is hardly any man so old but he may hope for 
one day more yet ; and the longest life is but a multiplication of days.' 

1. 77. Great standing miracle I The miracle, or paradox of the under* 
standing, is that while man is the only animal whose faculties enable him to 
apprehend the certain approach of death, his action is not paralysed by it. 
Cicero gives reasons for this paradox, Tusc. Quaest. I. 38 : * Non detenet 
sapientem mors, quae propter incertos casus quotidie imminet, propter brevi* 
tatem vitae nunquam longe potest abesse, quominus in omne tempus rei- 
publicae suisque consulat, et posteritatem ipsam, cujus sensum habiturus noa 
sit, ad se putet pertinere.' 

1. 79. instinct. Instinct is defined by Bain, ' untaught ability ; ' by Paley, 
Nat. Theol. ch. 18, * a propensity prior to experience and independent of 
instruction/ In Pope's use of the term a propensioa as well as an ability it 

///. 103 

intended. The varoj^s theories of instinct are discussed by Kirby, Bridg- 
water Treatise, yol i, p. 220 ; Spence, Introdnction to Entomology ; Mac- 
cuUoch, Proofs and Illustrations of the Attributes of God, vol. i, p. 509 sq.; 
Max Miiller, Science of Language, Ser. i, Lect. 9 ; and most fully by Dar- 
win, Descent of Man, pt. I, ch. 2, 3. Cf. note on Essay, i. 221. 

L 83. Say, where ftiU instinct is A* unerring guide, &c. Charron, De la 
Sagesse, c. 34. 5, argues the superior advantages of instinct over reason as a 
guide of life. Cf. Young, Night Thoughts, 7 : 

'Reason progressive, instinct is complete; 
Swift instinct leaps, slow reason feebly climbs. 

Instinct far better; what can choose, can err; 
O, how infallible the thoughtless brute I ' 

L 86. fresi» The antithesis to volunteer, 1. 88, shews that prest is here 
to be taken in the sense of * forced into service.' In this sense, according to 
Wedgwood, the word is derived from ' prest-money,' the earnest-money 
received by a soldier taking service. At a later period the practice of taking 
men for the public service by compulsion, made the word be understood as 
if it signified to force men into the service, and the original reference to 
earnest-money was lost sight of. 

L 97* raise, * Exalt,' * commend.' Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel : 
*Rais'd in extremes, and in extremes decry'd.' 
Pope, Prol. to Sat. 211: 

'While wits and Templars every sentence raise, 
And wonder with a foolish face of praise.' 
rise in Warburton ed. 1751* is an error of press. 

L 98. In this 'tis God directs, in that 'tis num. Hooker, Eccl. Pol. I. 
6. 2, explains the superior sagacity of brutes : * Beasts, though otherwise 
behind men, may notwithstanding, in actions of sense and fancy, go beyond 
them : because the endeavours of nature, when it hath a higher perfection 
to seek, are in lower the more remiss, not esteeming thereof so much as 
those things do which have no better proposed unto them.' Descartes, to 
explain the same fact, had supposed brutes to be animated machines, Dis- 
course of Method, 5 : ' Though there are many animals which manifest 
more contrivance than we in certain of their actions, this dees not prove 
that they are endowed with mind. For it would thence follow that they 
possessed higher reason than any of us, and could surpass us in all things. 
It rather proves that they are destitute of reason, and that it is nature which 
acts in them according to the disposition of their organs. Thus a clock 
composed of wheels and weights can measure time more exactly than we, 
with all our forethought.' Pope here follows the received opinion of catholic 
divines. This is stated in the Nouveaux Essais de Morale ( 1 686) : * La 
raison qui op^re dans les bStes n'est pas en elles, c'est comme dit S. Thomas 
apr^s tons les anciens ptres, la souveraine et eternelle raison de IrQuvrier 
supreme qui conserve &e$ ouvrages, et qui les conduit aux fins pour lesquels 
il les a crees par des ressorts secrets qu'il a mis en eux.' 

1. 99. nations. So the Latin poets * gentes.' Cf. Hoole, Tasso 16. 116, 
' feather'd nations.' Giles Fletcher has it of plants, Christ's Triumph, pt. 3 : 
'Nettles, kix, and ail the weedy nation.' 
Who taught the natiotis of the field and flood. So 2nd ed.*, 17,5' 


In 1736 the old reading, f&oo<f, came back, but with Vn erratum, ' for wood 
itzdi flood* Georgius Pisides, Hexaemeron, i T37 : 

Tit Ti)v fUKirraaf, rifi^ ffo<ff^t r^ ipyanv 

Otxovt iyeipciv i^aytSjvojy «Ti<T/JL&Toay. 
Cf. Prior, Solomon, 1 : 

'Who taught her against winds and rains to strive, 
To bring her burden to the certain hive/ 
The •reasoning here requires attention. The effects of animal instinct 
may be employed as evidence either of a contriving mind, or of a providential 
care, in the Creator. They are here adduced in neither point of view, but to 
shew the equable distribution of the means by which the great end o{ the 
universe is attained ; that means being, reason in man, instinct in animals. 

,1. 104. De Moivre, Moivre, Abraham (he appears not to have been 
entitled to the De), a French Protestant (bom 1667, died 1 754). Driven 
from his native country by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he took 
up his residence in London, and became an intimate friend of Newton, and 
Fellow of the Royal Society. He had recently published (Lond. 1730) 
Miscellanea Analytica de seriebus et quadraturis. His principal work. The 
Doctrine of Chances, had been published in 171 6. He also revised the Latin 
translation of Newton's Optics. Todhunter, Theory of Probabilities, p. 135, 
says : * It is recorded that Newton, in the later years of his life, used to reply 
to inquirers, " Go to M. De Moivre, he knows these things better than I do.** 
In the long list of men ennobled by genius, virtue, and misfortune, who have 
found an asylum in England, it would be difficult to name one who has coa-^ 
ferred more honour on his adopted country than De Moivre,* 

L 105. The stork. Cf. Milton, Paradise Lost, 7. 425 : / 

* Part more wise. 

In common, ranged in figure, wedge their wajr. 

Intelligent of seasons, and set forth 

Their aery caravan, high over seas 

The stork (Ciconia alba) arrives in Europe before the middle of April. It 
winters in North Africa, Egypt, &c. Their congregating before departure 
is a striking phenomenon, which in early times attracted the attention of 
naturalists. It is described by Pliny, Hist. Nat. 10. 31. Perhaps Pope had 
read the description of Shaw, Travels, 2. 167. 

11. 109-114. Hooker, Eccl. Pol. 1. 3. 5 : *We must further remember 
that 'as natural agents have their law, which law directeth them in the 
means whereby they tend to their own perfection, so likewise another law 
there is which toucheth them, as they are sociable parts united ii)to one 
body ; a law which bindeth them each to serve unto others good, and all to 
prefer the good of the whole before whatsoever their own particular.* 

1. 112. mutual. Mutual happiness, i.e. reciprocal, derived by each fin>m 
the other. Gray's use of the term, Fragm. on Ed. and Gov. 1. 36 : 

'While mutual wishes mutual woes endear,' 
is not correct. That in which two or more have a share is not mutual, 
but common. 

1. 115. ether. For the meaning oi ether in the natural philosophy of the 

III. 105 

period, sec Ray, Wisdom of God in Works of Creation, p. 51 (cd. 1692) : *The 
universe is divided into two sorts of bodies, the one very thin and fluid, the 
other more dense, solid, and consistent ; the thin and fluid is the ether, com- 
prehending the air or atmosphere encompassing the particular stars and planets.' 
ieeps — breathes — shoots — pours. All predicates of ether. P<^e here 
adopts, or employs for the moment, the notion that all life on the globe is 
derived from the warm ether diffusing itself through all nature. Ellis, 
Preface to Bacon's Philos. Works : ' That all bodies are animated, that a 
principle of life pervades the whole universe, and that each portion, beside 
its participation in the life of the world, has also its proper vital principle, 
are doctrines to which in the time of Bacon (died 1626) the majority of 
philosophical teformers were strongly inclined. ' As a physiological explana- 
tion of the origin of life, the notion had originated with the Stoics, see 
Zeller, Phil, der Griech. v. 4. 180. Pope perhaps had in view Virgil, in a 
celebrated passage, Aen. 6. 72S : 

' Inde hominum pecudumque genus vitaeque volantum, 
£t quae marmoreo fert monstra sub aequore pontus.' 
and Georg. 4. 220: 

*£sse a|nbus partem divinae mentis et haustns 
1. IT 9. all that roam the wood. 

Or wing the slty, or roll along the flood. 
Cf. Boileau, Sat. 8. i : 

* De tous les animaux qui s'^lfevent dans Tair, 
Qui marchent sur la terre, ou nagent dans le mer.' 
I. 125. their common charge attends Attend used transitively, Bacon» 
Advancement of Learning, 2. 13. 3 : * They reputed the attending the 
inductions whereof we speak, as if it were a second infancy or childhood.' 
Sir H. Wotton has * attend of.' Poems of Wotton and Raleigh, p. 34 : 
'There stood my friend with patient skill. 
Attending of his trembling quill.' 
1. 127* wander earth. This construction is found even in prose, Harring- 
ton, Oceana, p. 42 (ed. 1 7 71): * We have wandered the earth to find out 
the balance of power.* 

1. 134. interest' Utility, as opposed to disinterested love. Reason and 
reflection come in, in the human parents, to improve and extend the natural 
instinct and affection which bind them to their offspring. 

1- 135- With choice we fix. Fix, intransitive. Cf. Young, Night 
Thoughts, a, of the choice of friends : 

• Not eager in the choice, 
Nor jealous of the chosen ; fixing, fix.' 
Active, Pope, Essay, 4. 44 : 

*Seek an admirer or would jff* a friend.* 
I. 136. Each virtue in each passion takes its turn. To be explained by 
Essay, 2. 183: v 

* The surest virtues thus from passions shoot. 
Wild nature's vigour working at the root.* 
Cf also Essay, 2. 100. 
L 138. That graft benevolence on charities. Charities seem here to be 


used for the instincts of affection ; natural love, 1. 140, on which are founded 
the benevolent virtues. Cf. Bacon, Advancement of Learning, 2. 32. 15 : 
* If a man's mind be truly inflamed with charity, it doth work him suddenly 
into greater perfection than all the doctrine of morality can do, which is but 
a sophist in comparison of the other/ 

1. 146. In this elaborate analysis of the origin of society, its threefold 
source, (l) Instinctive gregariousness, (2) Natural affection, (3) Experience 
of utility, seems justly indicated. The first and third are always put forward 
together by the Greek theorists, who characteristically lay little or no stress 
on the second. See Aristot. Pol. 3. 6. 3 : ' Man is by nature a sociable 
animal ; whence it is that men, though needing nothing of each other, desire 
nevertheless to live together.' 

I. 147. This picture of the state of natvre is a striking instance of the 
indecision of view in Pope's philosophy, and of the way in which what he 
thinks, or says, on such topics^ is governed by considerations of poetical 
effect. See Introduct. p. 13. 

blindly. The emphasis is on blindly, ' The state of nature was not a 
chance medley of individuals, but a government by constituted authority.' 
On the various forms of the theory of the state of nature and the social pact, 
see Austin, Province of Jurisprudence Determined, p. 281. 

1. 148. Self-love and social at ber birth began, A very awkward line : 
her refers to nature ; self and social to love» The latter eUipsis is repeated 
again. Essay, 3. 317. 

1. 150. Umon the bond of all things, and of man. The expression is 
tautological. What is meant is (see Essay, 3. 1 11), that what cohesion of 
particles is in the material world, that, the social instinct is in the moral. 
Aristot. Pol. I. 2. 10 : voXiriKhv 6 avOpomos fyoy vdarjs iiOdrTqs, Hal 
vavrds dytXalov (cfov fmWoy, Mr. Eaton (on Pol. 3. 6. 3) quotes Words- 
worth, Excursion, 4 : 

'Creatures that in communities exist 
Less, as might seem, for general guardianship. 
Or through dependence upon mutual aid. 
Than by participation of delight. 
And a strict love of fellowship combined,' &c. 
1. 153. The most ancient description of the golden age*is that of Hesiod, 
Op. et Dies, 102-126. Cf. Hall, Satires, bk. 3. Sat. I. For a philosophical 
employment of the fancy, see the dialogue of Fr. Hemsterhuys, Alexis oa 

1. 154. No murder cloatVd him, and no murder fed. The classical tradi- 
tion represents abstinence from animal food not as the condition of primeval 
innocence, but as having been first inculcated, along with elementary civilisa- 
tion, by Pythagoras. Cf. Ovid. Met. 15. 75 : 

'Parcite mortales dapibus temerare nefandit 
Corpora,* &c. 
The Satumian age of Aratus, or Virgil, Georg. 2. 537 : 

Impia quam caesis gens est epulata juvencis,' 
seems to be a theory of the origin of society taken up by the poets for pur- 
poses of ornament. 

///. I07 

I. 156. AH vocal beings hymtCd their equal God, Perhaps suggested hy 
Milton, Par. Lost, 4. 675 : 

•Nor think though men were none, 
That heav'n would want spectators, God want praise,' &c. 
Cf. Ps. 148. 10. 

II. 1 61-168. These lines are a study of terse and condensed expression. 
1. 162. 0/bal/tbat live the butcher and the tomb. Gay, Fable 36 : 

* Think how the glutton man devours 1 
What bloody feasts regale his hours 1 
O impudence of power and might. 
Thus to condemn a hawk or kite. 
When thou perhaps, carnivorous sinner, 
Hadst pullets yesterday for dinner.' 
the tomb. Lucretius, 5. 993 : 

*Viva yidens vivo sepeliri viscera busto.* 
I. 165. just disease. Thomson, Seasons; Spring, 340: 

'For with hot ravin fired, ensanguin'd man 
Is now become the lion of the plain. 
And worse/ 
That disease of body and mind — fury-passions — originated in animal food 
had been maintained by many of the Greek schools, e. g. the Orphic, the 
Pythagorean. Xenocrates and Polemo, academics, each wrote against animal 
food. See Clemens Alex. Strom. 7. 3a. The Bassari, a Thracian people, 
were fabled to have been driven into madness and cannibalism by the taste 
of flesh. Theophrastus, ap. Porphyr. De Esu Animal. 1. 2. Pope, we know, 
did not really entertain any such belief, and only employs it as a topic of 
ornament. Thus it is that a false air is thrown over a subject, in which the 
earnestness of truth is imperatively required. 

L 167. fury-passions. Imitated by Gray, Distant Prospect of Eton 
Coll. 61: 

'These shall the fury passions tear. 
The vultures of the mind.' 
1. 168. amercer savage, J. B. Mayor, Coatemp. Rev. 14. 132. 'Savage 
means ' wild beast,' as in 3. 65 : 

*He saves from famine, from the savage saves.' 
The general meaning is, * men by the indulgence of their passions become 
fiercer, and more dangerous to each other, than wild beasts.' 

L 169. See him from nature rising slow to aril Bacon, De Augmentis, 
5. 2 (Shaw's transl.) : 'Those who write upon the first inventors of things, 
and the origin of the sciences, bring in beasts, birds, fishes, and serpents, 
rather than men, as the first teachers of art. . . . We are rather beholden to 
the wild-goat for chirurgery, to the nightingale for music, to the stork for 
glysters .... rather than to logic. Who taught the raven in a drought to 
drop pebbles into a hollow tree, where she chanced to spy water, that the 
water might rise for her to drink ? Who taught the bee to sail through the 
vast ocean of air to distant fields, and to find the way back to her hive ? 
Who taught the ant to gnaw every grain of corn that she hoards, to prevent 
its sprouting?' On the arts in general being an imitation of the procedures 
of nature, see Hippocrates, vol. 6, p. 486 (ed. Littr^). 


1. 171. Thus &>en to man the voice ofncUure spake. Nature is personified, 
and made to address man, in imitation of Lucretius, 3. 944 : 

* Si vocem rerum natura repente 
Mittat, et hoc alicui nostrum sic increpet ipsa.* 

1. 177. little nautilus. Pope, in a note, refers to Oppian, Halient. I. [350], 
as his authority for the nautilus. Brotier thinks that Oppian copied Pliny, 
Nat. Hist. 9. 47, though the suggestion that navigation originated in obser- 
vation of the nautilus, is original in Oppian. It is the Nautilus argonauta of 
Linnaeus. It does not use its arms as sails ; but it sometimes uses them as 
oars when it wishes to progress slowly, while floating on the surface of the 
tea. See Woodward, Manual of Mollusca, p. 163. 

1. 1 79. all forms of social union. The beaver, the lemming, the bee, 
the wasp, ant, white ant, besides others, form associations to build and 
inhabit a common house, and rear a common family. 

1. 193. And rights too rigid, harden into wrong. Cicero, OfBc. 1. 10: 
' Ex quo illud, summum jus, summa injuria, factum est jam tritum sermone 

i. 194. Joann. Sarisber. Entheticus, 1. T527: 

'Sic Anacharsis ait, cohibent civiiia jura 
\ Invalidos; magnis quolibet ire licet.' 

I. 197* And for those arts mere instinct could afford^ 

Be crown d as monarcbs, or as gods ador'd. 
Pope adopts the vulgar belief of his time as to the origin of the deities of the 
Greek mythology. They were supposed to have been real men, benefactors 
to mankind, whom the gratitude of posterity had deified. This mythological 
theory originated among the Greeks themselves, and was made popular by 
the book of Euhemerus (b.c. 330). It was transferred to Rome by Ennius 
a century later, and was adopted by some of the Christian fathers, e.g. 
Lactantius, De Fals. Relig. i. 15: *Deos appellarent, sive ob miraculum 
virtutis, sive in adulationem praesentis potentiae, sive ob beneficia quibus 
erant ad humanitatem compositi.' Cf. S. Aug., De Civ. Dei, 3. 15. This 
theory is made the basis of Pomey's Pantheum Mythicum, a favourite school 
manual of mythology in the eighteenth century. Cf. Sidney, On Government, 
I. § 16 : 'The ancients chose those to be kings who excelled in the virtues 
which are most beneficial to civil society.' 

I. 204. rills. Rill s= Si trickling stream. The verb 'to rail '3= to trickle, is 
obsolete. Gr. ^icD ; Lat. rivus, 

1. 205. ravish, FT,ravir; Lat. rapere, 'To seize, to snatch, to carry 
off.' Gibbon may have been thinking of this line when he wrote (Decline 
and Fall, i . c. 9) : ' To solicit by labour what might be ravished by arms 
was esteemed unworthy of the German spirit.* 

I. 213. The same which in a sire the sons (^ey*d, 

A prince the father of a people made* 
i. e. ' The same virtue which the sons obeyed in their sire, made the father 
of his people a king.' 

II. 219-222. Warton: *A finer example can scarce be given of a compact 
and comprehensive style. Pope is here, as Quintilian [10. I. 73] says of 
another [Thucydides], " densus, et brevis, et instans sibi." There is not a 
useless word in this passage ; there are but three epithets, wond'ring, prth 

///. I09 

founds aerial, and they are placed precisely with the tery substatitiire that is 
of most consequence ; if there had been epithets joined with the other sub- 
stantives, it would have weakened the nervousness of the sentence. This 
was a secret of versification Pope well understood, and hath often practised 
with peculiar success/ 

1. 223. drooping, sick*niHg, dying: i.e. the Patriarch. 

L 242. 71>* enormous faith of many made for one. Hooker, Eccl. Pol. 
I. 10. 5 : ' They saw that to live by one man's will became the cause of all 
men's misery.' See this profusely commented on by Locke* Of Civil Govern- 
ment, c. 8. Cf. Thomson, Liberty, pt. 4. 972 : 

*As if for one and sometimes for the worst 
Heaven had mankind in vengeance only made.' 

1. 249. She: L e. superstition ; sol. 256, 2rer. 

1. 257. Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust. The Greek fathers 
made common cause with the philosophers in urging against the pagan 
polytheism the immorality of the gods of the Pantheon. 

1. 262. And hell was built on spite, and heaven on pride : i. e. the hell and 
heaven of the various pagan religions. 

I. 263. Then sacred seem*d tb* ethereal vault no more ; whereas before it 
had been the common temple beneath which, Ess. 3. 156, 
*A11 vocal beings hymn'd their equal God.' 

I. .264. gore. Pope has adopted the erroneous fancy that the earliest 
sacrifices were unbloody. See Essay 3. 157, 8. 

1. 265. flamen. An old Latin term denoting a priest attached to the 
service of some particular deity. Here used generally for *a priest*; as, 
with less than his usual correctness, by Milton, H3rmn on Nativ. 194 : 

* A drear and dying sound 
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint.' 
Carey, Elegy on Donne (Donne's Poems, p. 336), correctly : 

'Here lie two Flamens, and both those the best; 
Apollo's first, at last the true God's priest.' 
Marlowe, Translation of Lucan, Works, 3. 490, has Flamins, 

1. 267. With heav'n*s own thunders shook the world below : i. e. persuaded 
the people that he could command thunder. 

1. 274. What serves one will, when many wills rebel t i, e. 'What avails 
one will, when many wills resist it ? ' 

1. 278. All join to guard what each desires to gain. Hooker, Eccl. 
Pol. I. 8. 7: 'For seeing those things which are equal must needs all have 
one measure ; if I cannot but wish to receive all good, even as much at 
every man's hand as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I 
look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful 
to satisfy the like desire, which is in other men ?* The student may here 
compare the difRiseness of the early style with the condensation of the later. 
The gravity and dignity of Hooker are absent ; but that defect, in Pope, is 
a defect of character, not style. 

1. 293. jarring, * Jar,* an onomatopoeic word, denoting the noise of 
physical collision ; cf. * chirrup,' and Lat. garrire. Metaphorically, any 
conflict or collision. Marlowe, Jew of Malta, act 2, sc. 2 : * We will not 
jar about the price.' Kenelm Digby, Treatise of Man's Soul, p. 43 (1639) : 


* For if their actions should jarre against any of their maximes, they would 
presently reflect/ 

1. 294. TV according music of a well-rmxed state. Cf. Cicero, De Rep. 
2. 42 ; ap. S. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, 2. 21 (a passage which is sometimes 
cited to show that the ancients were acquainted with counterpoint) : ' Ut in 
fidibus aut tibiis, atque ut in cantu ipso ac vocibus concentus est quidam 
tenendus ex distinctis sonis, quem immutatum aut discrepantem aures 
eruditae ferre non possunt ; • . . . quae harmonia a musicis dicitur in cantu, 
ea est in civitate concordia, arctissinium atque optumum in omni republica 
vinculum incolumitatis.' Milton, Ode to Solemn Music, 1. 19 : 
'As once we did, till disproportion'd sin 
Jarred against nature's chime, and with harsh din 
Broke the fair music that all creatures made 
In perfect diapason.' 
Shaftesbury, Moralists, I. 3: *We admire the world's beauty founded on 
contrarietys ; whilst, from such various and disagreeing principles, a 
universal concord is established.' 

1. 303. For forms of government let fools contest, &c. It might be 
objected to this dictum that no great civil contests have been about the form 
of the government, but for the substantial power. But what is intended by 
Pope is really nothing more than what had been said by Hooker, Eccl. 
Pol. I. 10. 5 : 'Some kind of regiment the law of nature doth require; yet 
the kinds thereof being many, nature tieth not to any one, but leaveth the 
choice as a thing arbitrary.' The want of moral composure shown in the 
use of the word * fools ' again mars the effect of Pope's forcible condensation. 
1. 305. For modes cf faith let graceless zealots figbt, &c, Cf. Cowley, 
On the death of Mr. Crashaw; Works, I. 70 : 

•Pardon, my mother church, if I consent 
That angels lead him when from thee he went; 
For cv'n in error sure no danger is. 
When join'd with so much piety as his; 
His faith perhaps in some nice tenets might 
Be wrong; his life I'm sure was in the right.' 
Piers Plowman, Passus 1 1. 1. 13*) (ed. Skeat, vol. i, p. 128): 
• Hit is no science forsothe ' to sotilen therinne, 
Neore the love that lyth therinne * a leved thing it weore, 
Bote for it [let] best bi love • I leeve it the betere 
For that love is the lord * that lakked never grace.' 
It must be remembered that Pope was a Catholic. Though he 
kept his non-conformity in the background, he had resisted all attempts 
to induce him to forsake the faith of his father. His letter to Bishop 
Atterbury (Nov. 20, 1717)* who had sounded his disposition in this respect, 
deserves to be read as a model of firmness united to toleration of the opinion 
of others. He had said there what he repeats in the Essay ; ' whether the 
change would be to my spiritual advantage God only knows ; this I know, 
that I mean as well in the religion I now profess as I can possibly ever do 
in another. Can a man who thinks so justify a change, even if he thought 
both equally good ? ' 

Epiphanius, Haer. 46, enumerates this tenet among the heresies, and 

IV. 1 1 1 

sscribes it to one Tatianus. See on the subject, Jeremy Taylor, Lib. of 
Proph. vol. 5i p. 382. Considered as an abstract proposition, the sentiment 
expressed in these vigorous lines cannot be maintained as philosophically 


1. Z. Oh happiness t our being's end and aim! This was the starting- 
point of the ethics of the school from the time of* Plato (Euthyd. p. 278 e) 
downwards. Grotius, Pufendorf, and their followers first introduced a new 
point of view for morals by endeavouring to found moral obligation upon 
natural law. 

happiness! Cf. Prior, Solomon; Works, vol. I, p. 306: 
* Happiness I object of that waking dream 
Which we call life, mistaking I fugitive theme 
Of my pursuing verse ; ideal shade, 
. Notional good, by fancy made 
And by tradition nursed.' 
1. 3. That something still which prompts th* eternal sigh, Cf. Essay I. 95 : 
' Man never is, but always to he blest.' 
Manil. Astronom. 4. 5. ' Victuros agimus semper, nee vivimus unquam.' 
L 9. shine, A substantive; so Milton, Ode aa: 
*Girt with taper's holy shine.' 
Spenser, F. Q. i. lo. 67. 

1. 10. flaming mine. The supposed effect of the diamond in illuminating 
the mine. 

1. 12. Or reap*d in iron harvests of the field J Shirley, Ellis' Spec. 3. 132 : 

' Some men with swords may r^ap the field.' 
1. 20. Though all the schools were agreed to say that happiness was the 
supreme good, yet there was a vast variety of opinion as to what happiness 
consisted in. Varro (died b.c. a8) reckoned 288 different opinions, which 
had been, or might be, held on the point. See S. Augustine, De Civ. 
Dei, 19. I. 

1. 24. Som£t swelVd to gods, confess enfn virtue vain. The allusion is to 
Brutus' dying speech, Dio Cass. 47. fin., citing the exclamation of Her- 
cules in the tragedy, ' Miserable Virtue I Thou wert then a name, and I 
have pursued thee as a reality 1* 

1. 34. Equal is common sense, and common ease. Descartes, On Method, 
p. 1 : * Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally dis- 
tributed ; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that 
those even who are most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually 
desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess.' 

common sense, Dugald Stewart, Life of Rdd ; Works, vol. 10, p. 306 : 
' Common sense, as it is generally understood, is nearly synonymous with 
"mother-wit"; denoting that degree of sagacity, depending partly on 
original capacity, and partly on personal experience and observation, which 
qualifies an individual for those simple and essential occupations which all 
men are called on habitually to exercise by their common nature.' 

112 ' ESSAF ON MAN. 

Cf. Qv^jt Education and Government, 1. a8 : 

'Alike to all the kind impartial heav'n 
The sparks of truth and happiness has giv'n.* 
1. 37* And makes what happiness we justly call. 

Subsist not in the good of one, but all. 
The doctrine here stated by Pope seems to be nearly that of Cumberland, 
De Legibus Naturae, 1762. According to Cumberland, no action can 
be morally good which does not in its own nature contribute somewhat 
to the happiness of men. , This view differs from the ' greatest hap- 
piness' principle of modern utilitarianism, in professing to be based not 
on experience, but on an a priori consideration of the position of rational 
agents in the order of things. As such it is scarcely distinguishable from 
the Kantian principle. Kant, Works, 5. 370 (ed. 1838): 'According to 
my theory, neither human morality, nor human happiness considered in 
itself, but the> highest possible good in the world, which subsists in the 
union and identity of both these elements, is the sole end of the Creator.' 
1. 39. ^nd = Fr. trouver. 

1. 40. hearken to the kind, ' Kind,' i. e. species, is emphatic, being in anti* 
thesis to ' individuals.* Cf. Donne, in the celebrated simile of the compasses. 
Valediction, Poems, p. 36 (ed. 1719): 

*And though it in the center sit. 
Yet when the other far doth rome. 
It leans and hearkens after it.' 
1. 47. Each has his share, Southwell, Times go by Turns ; Ellis' Spec. a. 200: 
' Few all they need, but none haVe all they wi^h ; 
Unmingl'd joys here to no man befall; 
Who least, hath some; who most, hath never all.' 
L 48. and who would more obtain. 

Shall find the pleasure pays not half the pain, 
Jeremy Taylor, Sermons, 1 5. pt. I : * If we go beyond what is needful, as 
we find sometimes more than is promised, and very often more than we 
need, so we disorder the certainty of our felicity, by putting that to a hazard 
whidi nature hath secured.' Cf. Raleigh, The Lye ; Poems of Wotton and 
Raleigh, p. 99. 

L 55. But mutual wants this happiness increase. Repeated from Essay, 3. 1 1 2 : 

' On mutual wants built mutual happiness.' 
I. 56. All nature*s difference keeps all natures peace. See the Heraclitean 
fragments, fir. 37, Ik tSjv Sia<ptp6vT0inf icaXKiar'qv apfioviay, and cf. Essay i. 

'All subsists by elemental strife.' 
1. 57. Condition, i.e. rank. 'Condition' in older English had usually a 
subjective sense as * temperament,' e. g. Ford, Broken Heart, act 3. sc. 4 : 
'Son, son, I find in thee a harsh condition; 
No courtesy can win it.' 
u not the thing. This line is spoiled to us by a phrase which ia 
Pope's time had not acquired its slang sense. 

1. 58. Bliss is the same in subject or in king. Horace, I Ep. 12. 5 : 
' Si ventri bene, si lateri est, pedibusque tuis, nil 
Divitiae poterunt regales addere majus.' 



IV. 113 

1. 6o. Tn him who is, or him who finds a friend, Lowtb objects to the 
grammar of this sentence that ' friend ' is at once the subject of * is/ and the 
object of * finds.' This construction would be inadmissible in prose, but it 
does not therefore follow that it is beyond the licence of poetical style. 
This eighteenth-century criticism reached its climax in BufFon's remark, 
Taine, Lit. Ang. 385 : ' Buffon finit par dire pour louer des vers qu'ils sont 
beaux comme de la belle prose.' 

1. 73. sdll, i.e. repeating the attempt of the Titans to climb to heaven. 

L 78. mere manleind, i. e. mankind as such. 

L 84. worse, i. e. by worse means. 

1. 92. To pass for good. The maximum of successful wickedness being, 
as Plato puts it. Rep. a. p. 361, * To combine the reputation of being a just 
man with the profits of injustice.' 

1. 98. ills or acdidents that chance to all. In the character of Square, in 
Tom Jones, Fielding has intended to ridicule the optimism of the Essay on 
Man; Tom Jones, bk. 5, ch. 2, On the occasion of the breaking of his 
arm, Square consoles Jones in these words : ' It was abundantly sufficient to 
reconcile the mind to any of these mischances, to reflect that they are liable 
to befall the wisest of mankind, and are undoubtedly for the good of the 

1. 99. See Falkland dies, the virtuous and the just t Lord Falkland fell, aet. 
34, at the battle of Newbury, Sept. 19, 1643. Clarendon, Hist. Rebellion, 
4. 341 : * A loss which no time will suffer to be forgotten, and no success or 
good-fortune could repair.' The character of Falkland which follows these 
words in Clarendon's History, is one of the most celebrated in that masterly 
gallery of portraits. 

1. 100. godlike Turenne, Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Viscount Turenne, 
fell at Sassbach, in Baden, in a^ campaign against the Imperialists, July 27, 
1675. Montecuculi, the leader of the Imperialists, on hearing of his death, 
is said to have exclaimed, ' There died a man who did honour to mankind I ' 
History cannot endorse the epithet godlike. The savage inhumanity of his 
campaign of 1 674, in the Palatinate, the effects of which are still visible in 
the appearance of the country, is a lasting disgrace to the government which 
ordered, and the leader who executed, it. 

1. lOl. Sidney. Sir Philip Sidney received the wound of which he died, 
aet. 32, at the battle of Zutphen, Sept. 22, 1586. Campbell, Spec. p. 40: 
* The cotemporaries of Sidney, foreigners no less than his countrymen, seem to 
have felt from his personal influence and conversation, an homage for him 
that could only be paid to a commanding intellect guiding the principles of 
a noble heart.. . .. The well-known anecdote of his generosity to the dying 
soldier, speaks more powerfully to the heart, than the whole volumes of 
elegies, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, that were published at his death.' 

1. 104. Digby I The sire was William, fifth Lord Digby, an Irish peer, 
died 1752, aet. 92. The son was Robert, died 1727, aet. 40. He was 
buried at Sherborne, in Dorset, where the inscription on his monument was 
written by Pope. 

L 105. made. . .. expire. Bad; but not so bad then as it is to us, now 
that the word has got the simple sense of *dJe.* For the proper use of 
titpire, cf. Spenser, Hymn to Beauty: 



*But when the vital spirits do expire, 
Unto her native planet shall retire/ 
Yet Thomas Stanley (died 1678), a man of learning, uses it in the modem 
sense; Ellis^ Spec. 3. 318 : 

*To some dark shade I will retire. 
And there, forgot by all, expire/ 
if virtue made the son expire. No one objects that the good die pre- 
maturely because of their goodness, but notwithstanding it. 

1. 107. Marseilles* good bishop. Warburton's ed. has Marseilles, M. de 
Belsunce was Bishop of Marseilles during the plague in 1 720. As a recog- 
nition of his devoted conduct on this occasion he received the pallium from 
Clement XII., in 1 731. Later, he clouded the fair fa^e he had thus 
acquired, by joining in the wicked persecution of the Jansenists. 

1. 108. When nature sicken* d and each gale was death ! This expressive 
line is taken from Dryden, Miscell. 5. 8; cf. George Sandys, Par, of Ps. 
(Ellis, Spec. 3. 30 :) 

' Thou saved'st me 

From raging fevers, from the sultry breath 
Of tainted air, which cloyM the jaws of death.* 

1. 1 10. Lent . heaven a parent. An allusion to the recent death of the 
author's mother. Caledonian Mercury, June 19, 1733 • * Mrs. Pope, mother 
•of the first poet of this age, who died very rich, was interred on Monday 
night at Twickenham.' 

1. III. physical or moral ill. Leibnitz, Th^odic^e, § 31, classifies evil 
under three heads : * Le mal m^taphysique consiste dans la simple imper- 
fection ; le mal physique dans le souffrance ; et le mal moral dans le p6ch6/ 

1. 116. improv*d it all. Ironically said; man made natural evil worse, 
'sought out many inventions.' French translation rightly, M'homme les 

1. 123. Shall burning Aetna, &c. One of many accounts of the death of 
the phifosopher Empedocles (b.c. 444) was, that he threw himself into one 
of the craters of Aetna. But the words if a sage requires are not appropriate 
to the story of Empedocles, who did not approach the volcano from curiosity, 
but was anxious to be taken for a god. The expression would suit Plinius, 
the Roman naturalist, who lost his life (aj>. 79) by approaching too close 
to the sulphuric fumes during an eruption. But then it was not Aetna, but 
Vesuvius, which was fatal to Plinius, in the great eruption by which Hercu- 
laneum and Pompeii were destroyed. It is possible that we have here a 
confused allusion to two different facts — ^to the legend of Empedocles, and 
the authentic account of the death of Plinius. 

1. 125. new motions be imprest, WoUaston, Religion of Nature, 5. 18: 
' If a good man be passing by an infirm building, just in the article of fiilling, 
can it be expected that God should suspend the force of gravitation till he 
is gone by, in order to his deliverance; or can we think it would be in- 
creased, and the fall hastened if a bad man was there, only that he might be 
caught, crushed, and made an example? If a man's safety or prosperity 
should depend upon winds or rains, must new motions be imprest upon the 
atmosphere ?' &c. 

1. 126, blameless Bethel! Hugn Bethel, a country gentleman of York- 

jy. 115 

shire, whose brother, Slingsby Bethel, was M.P. for the City of London. He 
suffered from asthma. To him Pope addressed his second satire of the 
second book : 

*Hear BetheFs sermon, one not versed in schools. 
But strong in sense, and wise without the rules.' 
1. ia8. you: i.e. Lord Bolingbroke, not Bethel, as the construction pro* 
perly requires. 

1. 130. Cbartres, Pope, Note to Moral Essays, 3. 20: 'A man infamous 
for all manner of vices, who acquired an immense fortune by a constant 
attention to the vices, wants, and follies of mankind. He died in 1731.' 

I. 137. Calvin, Bom at Noyon, in Picardy, 1509; died at Geneva, 1564. 
His memory is honoured by Protestants, and detested by Catholics, as the 
theologian and legislator of the Reformed or Presbyterian Church. 
L 142, After this verse, in the first edition, followed two lines— 
* Give each a system, all must be at strife ; 
Whatl different systems for a man and wife.' 
The joke, at once hackneyed and undignified, was struck out by Pope him- 
self in subsequent editions. 
1. 145. this world, *Hs true. 

Was made for Caesar. 
The allusion to Addison, Cato, act 5, sc. i, would be seized at once by 
Pope's readers at a time when Cato was still a favourite on the stage. 

1. 148. bd whose virtue sigb*d to lose a day. This celebrated saying of 
Titus is reported by Suetonius in his Life, and repeated after him by innu- 
merable annalists and chroniclers, Eusebius, Aurelius Victor, &c. Sueton. 
Vitae Caes. Tit. § 8 : * RecoUecting at supper that he had not in the whole 
course of the day conferred any favour on any one, he uttered these memo- 
rable and justly commended words. My friends, I have lost a day 1* (* Amici, 
diem perdidi 1 *) Cf. Young, Night Thoughts, a : 

*rve lost a dayl the prince who nobly cried 
Had been an emperor without his crown.' 
1. 151. That: i.e. bread. 

1. 160. why private? why no kingf i.e. 'Why is he only in a private station, 
and not a king ?' 
1. 168. The sottTs calm sunshine. Cf. Gray, Ode 3< 44 : 

* The sunshine of the breast.' 
1. I7r. or truth a gown. Not the gown of the clergyman, but of the 
academical degree of Doctor, as rightly understood by M. de Fontanel : 

' Qu'un bonnet de docteur couvre la v^rit^.' 
Cf. Moral Essays, i. 137 : 

* A judge is just, a chanc'lor juster still, 
A gownman leam'd, a bishop what you will.' 
Pope could not be alluding to the refusal by Convocation of the degree of 
D.C.L. to Warburton, as that visit to Oxford did not take place till 1741. 
This refusal is pointed at in the Dunciad, 4. 577 : 

'The last, not least, in honour or applause, 
Isis and Cam made Doctors of her Laws.' 
1. 172. its great cure^ a croum. Perhaps a petty gibe at William III (died 
March 8, 1702). An aversion to kings was one of Pope's affectations. 

I 2 


Bosw«lI, Life of Johnson, vol. 8, p. I9:' *'*Mr. Pope, you don't love 
princes," said Frederick, Prince of Wales, to him one day. '* Sir, I beg your 
pardon." "Well, you don't love kings, then." "Sir, I own I love the 
lion best before his claws are grown." ' Cf. Walpole, Letters to Mann, 1741 . 
Contrast Pope's affectation with the bitter sincerity of Milton, Sonnet to 
Cromwell, Sonnet 16 : 

' And on the neck of crowned fortune proud 
Hast reared God's trophies, and His work pursued.' 
In the editions of Milton from Philipps to Fenton these lines were mutilated. 
1. 175. life boy and man an individual makes. Makes, rightly singular, 
for the word is not used in its primary sense of ' create, fashion,' in which 
sense it is an active verb, taking an accusative after it, but in the technical 
sense, as marking quantitative equivalence, e.g. What does 3 times 4 make? 
Answer, 3 times 4 makes 12. 

1. 190. 7T}e lover and the love of humankind, ' Love/ in the sense 
of the beloved person, is old English. Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 4, 
sc. 4: 

'I am my master's true confirmed love.' 
Spenser, Faery Qneene, I. 3. 28: 

• Then I leave you, my liefe, ybom of heavenly berth.* 
But being almost always applied as a familiar term of endearment, it lowers 
the dignity of the context here. Cf. Latin use of ' amor,' Sueton. Vitae 
Caes. Tit. i : ' Titus, amor ac deliciae generis humani.' 

1. 194. Act well your part. The comparison of life to a play is one of 
those images at once obvious and striking, which were adopted by the 
modems from the classical poets, and employed by every writer till taste 
revolted at the repetition. Pope, with all his fastidiousness in choice of 
expression, allows himself to fall sometimes into these hackneyed metaphors. 
1. 196. One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade. It is evident that the 
verbs in this line are wrongly applied. They have in fact changed places. 
Pope had originally written : 

* Oft of two brothers, one shall be surveyed 
Flutt'ring in rags, one flaunting in brocade.' 
1. 199. cowl. . Wedgwood: * Lat. cueullus; A. S. cugle, cufle, euhle; 
W. cvjfl. The origin may perhaps be Gael, coqull, husks of com in which 
the grain is cased, as monk's head in his hood.* 

1. 203. Worth makes the man, &c. Cf. Petron. Arbit. c 75 : • Consilium 
est quod homines facit, caetera quisquilia onmia.' 

1. 204. prunella. Johnson : * Prunello « a kind of stuff of which the 
clergymen's gowns are made.' 

1. 205. Stuck o'erttntb tides and bung round with strings, Cf. Marquess 
of Worcester, Apophthegms, p. 49 (cd. 1 671): 

*A king can kill, a king can save, 
A king can make a lord a knave. 
And of a knave a lord also.' 
1. 306. TTfat, That is the demonstrative pronoun, and to be emphasised 
in reading. 

1. 207. Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race. Cf. Habmgton, 
ara (Southey's Poets, p. 992) : 

IV. 117 

'For altbough the blood 
Of Marshall, Standley, and La Pole doth flow, 
With happy Brandon's in your veines, you owe 
Your rirtue not to them. Man builds alone 
O* th* ground of honour; for desert's our own!' 
1. ao8. /rom Luerece to Luerece. Lucretia, with the French pronunciation. 
Pope is copying Boileau, Sat. 5. 85 : 

* Si lenr sang tout pur, ainsi que leur noblesse. 
Est pass^ jusqu'k vous de Lucrbce en Lucr^e.' 
L 211. Go I if your ancient ^ hut ignoble bloody &c. Ovid, Met. 13. 140: 
*Nam genus et proavos et quae non fedmus ipsi, 
Vix ea nostra voco.' 
I. 313. Has crept through scoundrels ever ance the flood, Rochester, 
Poems (Chalmers, 8. 244) : 

* Who with strong beer and beef the country rules, 
And ever since the conquest have been fools.' 
1. 315. What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards? Of. Whitehead, 
Manners : 

"Tis not the truncheon or the ermine's pride 
Can screen the coward, or the knave can hide.' 
1. 3 1 8. heroes^ &C. Cf. this passage with Juvenal's declamatory lines on 
the same subject. Sat. 10. 133, &c. 

1. 319. Macedonia's madman. Truth is here sacrificed to alliteration. 
The overthrdw of the Persian empire was not the enterprise of a madman. 
The retreat of the ten thousand (b. c. 400) had disclosed the want of 
internal cohesion in that monarchy, and from that time forward the con- 
quest became a topic of rational speculation. Roman criticism was even 
inclined to underrate the magnitude of the enterprise. * Nihil magis ausus 
quam vana ' contemnere,' says Livy, 9. 16. In a better tone than Pope, 
Pope's favourite, Surrey, Poems, p. 44 (ed. Nott) : 

' 'The great Macedon that out of Persia chas'd 

Darius, of whose huge power all Asia rang.' 

Pope, however, was not peculiar in forming this erroneous estimate. Boileau 

had indulged in a similar tirade, Sat. 8. 99, ' cet ^cerveld, qui mit I'Asie en 

cendre,' &c. And Spenser seems (F. Q. I. 5. 48) to share the error. 

1. 330. Ae Swede. The epithet madman which has adhered to Alexander 
the Great, ought to have been joined to the Swede, The instance of 
Charles XII is more appropriate than most of the historical examples pitched 
upon by Pope in the Essay. Charles XII's extraordinary career was still 
recent; he was killed at Frederickshall, 17 18. It was sufficient to allude 
to him as the Swede, since public attention had been recalled to him by 
Voltaire's brilliant monograph, published in 1 731, with the false date (?) of 
• Rouen.* 

1. 2 24. Fet ne*er looks forward further than his nose. Observe the effect 
of this single line, in which * the expression is depressed below the tone of 
the subject' (Bell, Grammar of the English Tongue, 1769), in vulgarizing 
the whole context. 

1. 325. No less alike the politic and wise. Alike corresponds to much Ae 
tame in 1. 319 ; * resemble each other.' 


1. 230. Elwin, note in loc: *The pronunciation of great was not nnifonn 
in Pope's day. " When I published," says Johnson, *' the plan for my dictionary. 
Lord Chesterfield told me that the word 'great' should be pronounced so as 
to rhyme to ' state ;' and Sir William Yonge sent me word that it should be 
pronounced so as to rhyme to ' seat,' and that none but an Irishman would 
pronounce it * grait.' " Pope, in this epistle, and elsewhere, has made great 
rhyme to both sounds.* 

1. 235. Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was emperor from aj>. 161 
to 180. He left a book of * Reflections.' It was translated into English by 
(among others) Jeremy Collier, 1701. The Essay on Man shows throughout 
traces of Pope's familiarity with this book oyer and above the passages 
directly borrowed. 

1. 236. bleed. Bleed seems as improperly said of the death of Socrates, 
as reign of Marcus Aurelius. The Romans down to a very late period 
were scrupulous in avoiding applying the terms *rez,' *regnare,' &c. to the 

1. 237. Dugald Stewart, Works, 6. 148 : * That the desire of esteem, if 
a fantastic principle of action in one of these cases (i. e. posthumous fame), 
is equally so in the other (i. e. cotemporary reputation), is remarked by 
Pope. But instead of availing himself of this consideration to justify the 
desire of posthumous renown, he employs it as an argument to expose the 
nothingness of fame in all cases whatsoever.' 

Wbai*s famef a fancy d life in others' breath. Pope, Temple of Fame^ 

505 : 

' How vain that second life in others breath, 

Th' estate which wits inherit after death.' 
Lord Brooke, Poems (ap. Southey, p. 525) : 

' Besides, the essence of this glorious name 
Is not in him that hath, but him that gives it.* 
Of. Milton, Par. Reg. 3. 47. 

1. 344. Eugene. Prince Eugene of Savoy, whose signal defeat of the 
Turks at Peterwaradin in 1696, and share in the victories of the War of the 
Spanish Succession, had earned for him the highest military renown. He was 
an Italian by descent, a Frenchman by birth, and a German by adoption ; 
he used to sign himself accordingly, *Eugenio von Savoye.' He died in 
1736, and was therefore living when the Essay on Man was published. 

1. 247. A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod. Alluding to the pen with 
which the wit writes, and the baton or truncheon which was the symbol of 
the authority of the general. But the allusion is so obscure that the line, 
often as it is quoted, seems to be generally misunderstood. On the ' baton ' 
as symbol of command, see Menagiana, 4. 26. Cf. the commentators 00 
Judges 5. 14 ; Gray, Elegy, 47 : 

' Hands that the rod of empire might have sway'd.' 
1. 252. 7s hung on high, to poison half mankind. Alluding to the bar- 
barous practice of hanging in chains, a practice which was not discontinued 
till the present century. Cf. Young, Night Thoughts, Night 4 : 
*A scavenger in scenes where vacant posts 
Like gibbets yet untenanted, expect 
Their future ornaments.' 

IV. 119 

1. 356. Inaaas rh3rmes with weighs, according fo the pronunciation of the 
last vowel, which then ruled. The present pronunciation huzzS is et3mio- 
logically more correct. The word represents a cry of the chase (? Norman), 
bout fa! 

1. 257. Maredlus. Marcus Marcellus (died b. c. 46) may be ranked with 
M. Cato as the best and most public-spirited of the Pompeian party. After 
Fharsalus, he withdrew to Mitylene, where he devoted himself to literature 
and philosophy. By Marcellus, Pope is known to have meant the Duke of 
Ormond. The Duke of Ormond owed the devotion of the Tory party to his 
descent from the most illustrious of the cavaliers. He was himself an insig- 
nificant person, spoiled by flattery, without decision, and without capacity, 
relying always on others, yet without that distrust of himself from which an 
habitual reliance upon others might be expected to proceed. James, second 
Duke, was attainted of high treason, 1715, along with Lords Bolingbroke 
and Oxford. He was now (1734) living in exile in France in the service of 
the Pretender. 

1. 266. All fear^ none aid you, and few understand. The constant 
complaint of the Emperor Marcus Aurelins ; see his De Rebus Suis, passim. 

1. 267. Painful prebeminence ! Cf. Byron, Childe Harold^ canto 3, 

»t. 45 : 

'He who ascends to mountain tops shall find 
The loftiest peaks most wrapped in clouds and mow ; 
He who surpasses or subdues mankind 
Must look down on the hate of those below.' 
1. 378. Mark bow tbey grace Lord Umbra, or Sir Billy, It has been 
thought that Lord Melcombe and Sir William Yonge are here intended. But 
Bubb Dodington was only advanced to the peerage as Lord Melcombe in 
1 761.; and there is no point in supposing any real character to be aimed at 
here. The only reason for so thinldng is, that in 1. 280, 
* Look but on Gripus, or on Gripus' wife,' 
the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough are intended, as the context, 1. 302 
foil., shews. 

1. 281. Baeon, Francis Bacon, bom i56o,died 1626, aet. 66. Party rancour 
pressed against him certain charges of venality in the discharge of his judicial 
functions as Lord Chancellor. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to pay 
a fine of 40,000/., to be imprisoned in the Tower during the king's pleasure, 
and was declared incapable of holding any office or of sitting in parlia- 

1. 282. n>e wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind, ' It is painful to turn,' 
sa3r8 Macaulay; * from contemplating Bacon's philosophy, to contemplating 
his life.' So much truth requires us to say. But Pope goes beyond the 
truth. Bacon was not the meanest of mankind. Pope cannot forego an 
antithetical effect at whatever cost it has to be obtained. And in estimating 
historical characters he seems to have been without any proper standard, and 
wholly at the mercy of prevailing social prejudices. In the Essay alone we 
have such mistakes in the cases of Alexander the Great, Cromwell, Newton, 
Bacon, &c. Cf. 4. 219. Thomson had excused Bacon in lines as much 
better in sentiment as they are weaker in expression. Seasons; Summer, 



* Hapless in his choice, 
Unfit to stand the civil storms of state, 
And through the smooth barbarity of courts, 
With firm but pliant virtue, forward still 
To urge his course; him for the studious shade 
Kind nature formed, deep, comprehensive, clear. 
Exact and elegant;' &c. 
1. 283. ravish* d wiib, Spenser uses this construction. Sonnet 3 : 
* Ravished with fancy's wonderment,' 
Dnimmond, Hjrmn on Fairest Fair : 

*But ravished with still beholding thee.' 
ravisb'd with the wbisding of a name. Alluding to the proverb, * The 
fowler's whistle the bird's death.' See Gosson, School of Abuse, p. lo. Pope 
•robably remembered Cowley, Ess. Trans, of Virg. Georg. a : 

* Charmed with the foolish whistlings of a name.' 
1. 284. Cromwell, See note on 4. 282. 
I. 285. all, united : i. e. the rich, the honour'd, fam'd, and great. 

I. 290. How bappy I those to ruin^ these betray. Pope has here carried 
condensation to obscurity. 

L 292. From dirt and sea<aeed as proud Venice rose. Pope is aifecting 
to redress the fiilse scale of the common estimate of human afiairs. A true 
sense of greatness would not have permitted him to sneer at the humble 
origin of Venice, which in I735t though she had not lost her independence, 
had fallen from her splendour. More just was the sentiment of the Latin 
poets, who always refer to the lowly origin of Rome in a spirit of pride, 
e. g. Propertius, Eleg. 4. I : 

* Hoc, quodcunque vides, hospes, qua maxima Roma est. 
Ante Phrygem Aeneam, collis et herba fuit.' 
Thomson again is in a nobler tone (of Venice), Liberty, pt 4, L 294 : 
* Where pushed from plunder'd earth a remnant still 
Inspired By me, through the dark ages, kept 
Of my old Roman flame some sparks alive; 
The seeming god-built city,' &c. 
Alluded to by Byron, Childe Harold, c. 4, st. 13 : 

' Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done. 
Sinks like a sea-weed into whence she rose.' 
Cf. Rogers' Italy, Venice. 

1* 303. story* d. A Miltonic epithet misused. Milton, Penseroso, 158, 
says 'storied windows,' that is, representing ancient story. Cf. Harrison, 
Description of England, bk. 2, c. i : * As for our churches, all images, shrines, 
tabernacles, rood loftes, and monuments of idolatry, are removed, onely the 
stories in the glass windowes, excepted.' Story*d balls can only mean halls 
famed in story, historic Cf. Comus, 516 : 

'What the sage poets taught by th' heavenly muse 
Storied of old in high immortal verse.' 
Rowe, Lucan, b. 9, ' each storied place survey,' of Caesar visiting the plain 
of Troy. Gray, Elegy, st. 11, * storied urn or animated bust.* 

II. 307, 308. See 299, 300. This recurrence of the same rhyme, fame — 
shame f within ten lines is an instance of negligence. 

IV. 121 

I. 3I4> Is blest in what it takes, and what it gives, Cf. Merchant of 
Venice, 4. I : 

•It is twice blest; 
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.* 

II. 314-318. J. B. Mayor, Contemp. Rev. vol. 14, p. 118: 'This is a 
specimen of Pope's incorrect style. There is no subject to the verbs. What 
is it which is " attended with no pain " ? What is " without satiety " ? What 
is " more distressed " ? In the second line "joy unequalled " is in the absolute 
construction ; " it " is merit ; but we cannot speak of merit, scarcely of joy, 
as " attended with no pain **; the phrase is properly appHcable only to " loss," 
miderstood from the verb lose which precedes.' 

1. 347. {Nature^ whose dictates to no o&er kind 

Are giv'n in vain, hut what they seek theyjind,) 
The parenthetical couplet suggests, but obscurely, the argument for a future 
life from the human instinct of immortality. This argument is shortly stated 
by Dr. S. Clarke, Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion (1075), p. 271 
(ed. 1 749) : ' 'Tis not at all probable that God, should have given men appe- 
tites which were never to be satisfied ; desires which had no objects to an- 
swer them ; and unavoidable apprehensions of what was never really to come 
to pass.' So Young, Night Thoughts, Night 7 : 

•Heaven's promise dormant lies in human hope, 
Who wishes life immortal, proves it too.' 
1. 351* ^^ 0^^^ his own bright prospect to be blest. 

And strongest motive to assist the rest. 
The construction here is not only elliptical, but clumsy. Mr. Elwin, note 
in loc. explains : ' His greatest virtue is benevolence ; his greatest bliss the 
hope of a happy eternity. Nature connects the two, for the bliss depends 
on the virtue.' 

1. 364. As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake. Chaucer, House of 
Fame, 9. ^83 : 

•If that thou 
Threw in a water now a stone. 
Well wost thou it will make anone 
A littell roundell as a cercle, 
Paraventure as broad as a covercle, 
And right anone thou shalt see wele 
That whele cercle will cause another whele* 
Cf. Shakespeare, Henry VI. pt. i, act i, so. a : 

•Glory is like a circle in the water. 
Which never ceases to enlarge itself 
Till by broad spreading, it disperse to nought f 
Marvell makes another use of the image, First Anniversary, Sec,, Poems, 
p. 96 (ed. 1870): 

• Like the vain curlings of the watery maze 
Which in smooth streams a sinking weight doth raise, 
So man declining, always disappears 
In the weak circles of increasing years.' 
Pope had employed the simile before, Temple of Fame, 436; Dimciad, 
a. 407 


1* 373* ^^^"^ along. This Tulgarism is a blemish in the outset of this fine 
concluding address to Bolingbroke. 

1. 385. Say, shall my little bark attendant sail, &c. Hurd compares Statins 
Silv. I. 4. 120: 

* . . . . immensae veluti connexa carinae 
Cymba minor,* &c. 
'• 390- g^'^» philosopher, and friend. Mason, Poems, Elegy, I763» ex- 
postulates with the shade of Pope for his misplaced admiration bestowed on 
Bolingbroke, and refused to Marlborough, for no other reason than that of 
political connection : 

*Ask if he ne'er bemoans that hapless hour 
When St. John's name illumined glory's page ? 
Ask if the wretch who dar'd his memory stain, 
Ask if his country's, his religion's foe 
Deserv'd the meed that Marlbro' failed to gain. 
The deathless meed he only could bestow?' 
1. 391. urg*d by thee. Thus ascribing the suggestion of the subject to 

/ tttm'd the tuneful art 
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart. 
Pope supposed himself, in his poetry generally, and particularly in the Essay 
on Man, to have achieved a reform in the matter as well as in the style of 
writing. He had taken moral and social themes and topics of the day in 
which men's passions were interested, instead of exercising his ingenuity in 
coining verbal conceits, or writing copies of verses on neutral subjects. If 
Pope be contrasted broadly with the poets before the Restoration, called by 
Johnson * metaphysical,* the antithesis here drawn is true. But then it is 
equally true of many other poets who were Pope's contemporaries, and of 
Dryden. The contrast between words and things he pursues again in the 
Dunciad, in satirising grammar-school education, 4. 159 : 
* Confine the thought to exercise the breath, 
And keep them in the pale of words till death.' 


November, z88a. 





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